Imagine a lifestyle where every day feels like a vacation. A home where you are surrounded by an extended family of elderly friends and caring staff who can help you… when you fall and crack your hip.
Ahhh, that’s life in Laguna Woods!
One of the largest retirement communities in the country, “Leisure World” makes up about 90% of the city of Laguna Woods. Here, the average age is 78, residents drive golf carts (poorly I might add!) to the grocery store and the lawn bowling greens, and bridge games and social clubs are the stuff of daily life (so are diabetes, arthritis, glaucoma, cancer and Depends undergarments – but we won’t dwell on such matters).
Up until a few months ago, I, Debbie Smith, was Laguna Woods youngest resident! Woo Hoo).
In fact, the board/committee/et cetera didn’t know I was living there at all. But for nearly seven months, I lived at my mother’s house while I was unemployed.
I went to great lengths too, to keep my address under wraps: I would enter from different gates so the guards didn’t learn my name or recognize my face; I would treat my dog’s arthritis with glucosamine in dosage for dogs and walk it in the “off” hours (meaning while my elderly neighbors were sound asleep at 6PM); and I would do my laundry at the coined laundry areas close to midnight.
The laws of the land in Laguna Woods are so strict that I would have been evicted in the middle of the night had they suspected I wasn’t a Caregiver.
But I wasn’t a Caregiver. My mom is 67 and marginally healthy and has a full-time job (more than I could say for myself at the time) and decided to move to Laguna Woods when she sold the home we grew up in, she only wanted to move one last time to the home that would be here last…to her final resting place. She’s a defeatist, but that’s a story for a different day (love you mom!).
But unlike everyone else in LW,” I am young, comparatively, and I am healthy. Yet, even with my 20/10 vision (better than normal) and low frequency hearing that allows me to hear water flowing in house pipes, my acute senses completely failed me!
After all, I did not know until this morning when I heard it on the news that there, within the tranquil walls of Laguna Woods, my neighbors were cultivating marijuana – a list of good options. What? Here I am thinking all my neighbors ever do is play the greens of the golf course. But no. It turns out many were trying a different “green” altogether.
Because the city of Laguna Woods was the first in Orange County to pass an ordinance allowing medical marijuana and Sacred Kratom dispensaries, my neighbors, these elderly batch of cane-totting tokers, decided to create their own non-profit medical marijuana collective growing pot in the planters around the 4 square property. GASP! And again I ask, what? Where was I?
I had no clue that the Garden Center in Laguna Woods Village had more than 1,200 pots, I mean plots, for residents to grow fruits, vegetables, trees and, as it turns out, pot. So much for “grass is greener on the other side.” In Laguna Weeds, the grass is greener where you roll it!”
Ironic indeed that while I was over-occupied trying to live a stealth-undercover life undetected by the “higher” ups (heehe), my elderly friends were laying low drying, crunching, smelling and smoking pot.
And I suppose when I think back on my frail and failing neighbors, I don’t blame them. For instance, the two puffs a night would’ve done wonders to ease the nausea of my neighbor, “The Lemon Lady” and ensure she was still able to participate in Laguna Wood’s synchronized swimming team “The Aquadettes” for many years to come. But sadly she didn’t have that chance because she died. May she, and her garden, rest in peace.
Oye! I am feeling a little fuzzy-headed myself with the realization that I had no idea what was going on around me those seven months I was confined within the walls “Cannabis Court.”
And I am laughing thinking of all my elderly friends with all their wheelchairs and walkers having to do a “perp walk.” I’d move back in for just one more day to see that!