The east side of Mesa is a world in and of itself. I pondered this notion as I drove through the streets of our adopted Arizona city to pick up Bill from the Hyundai car dealer where we dropped off our Sonata for some repair work.
Mesa — particularly east Mesa — has so many retirees that you are caught off guard when you meet an older person who doesn’t have a Minnesota accent. Seriously, is there anyone left in Minnesota over the age of 50? (Cynically stated as only another snowbird could do in all good conscience.) While Scottsdale — also a mecca for retirees — is thick with men and women with expensive haircuts, golf course suntans, wearing tennis whites in the grocery store, and driving Bentleys, east Mesa is home to we common folk. You know, the people who grew your corn and wheat, or who fixed your automobile, or who taught Junior his new math.
As such, our abodes are more down-to-earth as well. While Jen, Bill, and I have a small single family home in a regular neighborhood where a school bus picks up the neighborhood kids each morning, I would venture to say that a large segment — perhaps the majority — of the senior population in east Mesa live in what are called Park Model neighborhoods. These are neighborhoods with small but usually nice homes — sometimes mobile homes or even RVs — that are limited to the 55 Plus demographic. The neighborhoods offer a lot of group activity options. You will often find pickle ball courts and bingo nights and monthly square dances in these types of ‘hoods. As with most things, some are nicer than others.
What got me to pondering was my driving past a somewhat sad-looking trailer park neighborhood near the car dealership that was called Apache East Estates…..
That made me smile, because I would imagine that the people who live in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, refer to their homes as estates. Without being judgmental, the two are not the same. For one thing, inexplicably, Grosse Pointe feels the need to add e’s to the end of each word, giving me the urge to call it Grossie Pointie. (That would not make the Grossie Pointie City Council happy.) The residents of Apache East Estates probably come from midwest towns that don’t end in unnecessary e’s. You don’t hear about Rede Cloude, Nebraska, for example.
I’ve also observed that the communities that aren’t Something-or-Other Estate are often Something-or-Other Resort. Just sayin’.
Euphemisms or not, I feel the need to add that the people who live in these estates and resorts have a lot of fun. And a lot of community spirit. I know this because many of the restaurants where Bill and I choose to eat often have literally tables full of neighbors who are dining together. They are generally happy to be retired, conservative in their dress (and probably their politics), wear shorts and Hawaiian shirts even if it’s 45 degrees (because they’re used to 45 below and this feels like a heat wave), and love their retirement. Rather than making me cranky (as most things do), I find myself smiling at their joyful companionship.
After we dropped off the car, we went to a little family-owned restaurant on Main Street near our house. There were only a few people (it was early, even for the 55 Plus crowd). We walked in and looked around for a hostess. A woman sitting with a male companion in a booth hollered out to us, “Take a seat anywhere. The staff is in the kitchen right now.” Clearly a regular, I thought. And I was right, because as she and her companion — probably her husband — left, she bid the waitress a chipper, “See you tomorrow!”
And then they returned to their home in Apache East Estates or Sonoran Valley Resorts, happy as a clam to be retired.
As am I.