Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Bag Lady reviews the snowbird season

Two weeks from today I fly from Tucson with my husband Art and our Designer Cat, Larisa. We are going home to Seattle after six months in the winter sun. It rained here about seven times in six months. The sun shone most days, even when the temperatures were less than warm.

We're leaving soon because we're close to the sweet spot: Tucson is less than 100 degrees during the day, and Seattle's rain is getting close to its springtime end. 

This is our sixth season as Arizona snowbirds. We've lived in the same park model and driven the same car. We've expanded our friendships, lost a few friends, taken up a variety of activities, dropped some of them. Each year it's a little different.

This year I continued with activities I've enjoyed before. I played handbells in Oregon when my children were small, and I picked them up again as a snowbird. I love the camaraderie and teamwork of playing bells. I play the lowest bells because I'm one of the younger ringers and don't have arthritis in my hands yet. We performed half a dozen times in the nondenominational church services at Voyager. 

I continue to enjoy the current events group that meets on Wednesday afternoons. This week we talked about Facebook's current data problems and about the potential impact of tariffs. The current events group used to be contentious - it has a diverse political mix - but these days it's a wealth of thought and wisdom, and I'm grateful to be part of it.

I've facilitated a Great Decisions foreign affairs group on Thursdays for the last six years. This year I eased myself out as leader as my friend JoAnne stepped in to replace me. She has been my backup for several seasons now. Next year I'll stay in the group, but without the responsibilities of the moderator. 

Two years ago I was responsible for ticket sales for the Voyager's theatre group. Last year I assisted the producer. This year I was in the cast. I've also served as the treasurer and room scheduler. Next year I don't plan to do anything with the theatre group. There are a couple of other possibilities, but time will tell. Twice a week rehearsals and a production meeting every Thursday were a big responsibility, and I like the idea of being a little less busy.

New to me this year was volunteering at Keep Tucson Together at their every-other-Saturday asylum clinic. We work with immigrants seeking asylum, helping them to fill out their paperwork and fleshing out the stories they tell in explaining why their lives will be in danger if they return home. It's not too far removed from the volunteer work I did in Greece in the last couple of years. I don't speak Farsi and not much Spanish, but I find I can communicate in other ways. It's very rewarding to make a connection with someone whose life is in danger or chaos. Whatever difference I can make, I want to do that. One of my current goals is to learn Spanish so that, within two years, I'll be conversant enough to talk to the asylum clients without an interpreter. I spend some time most days with Duolingo on my phone and Rosetta Stone on my laptop, and I'm looking into Spanish classes while I'm home this summer.

Someone asked me last week if I'm glad to be coming home. I told her that it's a transition, and it will take time. The people I know at home have been continuing on with their lives without me, and I'll need to ease myself back into that environment. It's much easier to come to Tucson in the fall, because everyone is arriving and glad to see each other again. Still, we have two homes and I love them both.

I have a friend, Ellen, who drove from Arkansas last spring to keep company with Larisa for the five weeks Art and I spent in Greece. By the time we got back Ellen had bought a park model (trailer) at Voyager! She said she'd made more friends in six weeks at Voyager than in several years in Arkansas. That's the kind of place Voyager is.

As I was writing this, my friend Bev called from home. We talked for 45 minutes and we're getting together for coffee the first Wednesday I'm home. So the transition is beginning already!

Lucky, lucky me. Such a life I get to have.


Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I admire you for all you do.

Tom Sightings said...

Sounds like you've got it all figured out! B and I took the Great Decisions foreign affairs course when we were in Connecticut, and then again in So. Carolina, and so when we moved to PA and found they didn't have one, we started up a group at our local Center for Learning in Retirement. Having a great time, and the people here really seem to love it. It's informative, but more importantly it gives people a voice, a chance to feel like they're participating. Hmmm, maybe a post? Anyway, have a good trip back north.

Shirley Mataya said...

What a great post, we are looking forward to beginning our new life at Voyager this fall, so excited about all of the opportunities that await. Have a wonderful trip home.

Olga Hebert said...

Someone asked me last week if I'm glad to be coming home --that paragraph said it so well. It is about transitions and accepting what each place has to offer, then making it your own.

Arkansas Patti said...

Hadn't really thought about the personal adjustments snow birds must go through. Must be interesting and stimulating. So neat that you are helping those seeking asylum. You always do manage to help. Kudos.

DJan said...

My sister's golf companions in Florida have just returned back to their homes in Canada. One sent her a picture of several feet of snow! Such a change for her. I think it's more than luck that makes your life so enjoyable: you have a knack for making friends. :-)

Linda Reeder said...

I think you stated it well - you have two homes. And you have the knack for making the most of each.

#1Nana said...

We sure enjoyed visiting you and Art this winter in Tucson...hope we can do it again. We're not sure where we are going next year, but we're leaving earlier and staying away longer!

Dee said...

Dear Linda, your life does seem filled with activity, commitment, and contentment. It's so good that you can sort through your activities and determine which you are ready to let go of and which you will pursue. I applaud your decision to learn Spanish so you will no longer need an interpreter for the vital work you are doing.

I hope your Seattle transition is smooth. Surely it will be given that you already have a coffee date with a friend. Your life is blessed and I suspect that's because you are always open to new possibilities. Peace.