spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily
PictureDeer at Rossmoor Parkway / D.H. Ryle
Watching my son sweep shards of glass from the seats after his car was broken into during the day in front of the condo where I live, I knew if I wanted him and my granddaughter to visit again, I might have to move. Suddenly, I visualized his pleasure visiting me in a safe haven near a golf course.

Some friends who had recently moved to Rossmoor, a gated-community for those 55 and over in Walnut Creek said they loved all the activities and mentioned two golf courses – a full-sized and a nine-hole. If I lived in Rossmoor, preferably across the street from the course, not much traffic would pass, no one would break into the car, the six-year old could cross the street easily, and so on. In short, I would be a convenient and desirable destination for my son and granddaughter, who would have three swimming pools to choose from.

I wasted no time setting up a first visit to Rossmoor. Kate, my friend with no emotional investment in living by a golf course and a background in finance, came too, so I would have the benefit of a mature perspective. She could say if she could see me at Rossmoor, living a quiet life far from urban inconveniences like noise and the plethora of city annoyances that caused my son such discomfort.

 We crossed the bridges out of the city and zipped through the tunnel. Traffic was light and we made good time, arriving at the entry gate an hour and ten minutes before I said I would arrive. Because Corky, a friend with many friends and some in Rossmoor, asked one of those friends as a favor to her to invite us to look around, our visit was anticipated and we entered the parkway effortlessly. So little noise, so many trees, and those golf courses! This might be just the place for my son and granddaughter to visit.

Jane, one of Corky’s Rossmoor friends, opened her home to us. She shared the facts of her layout and garden, explained the remodeling done on her unit. She also arranged for us to visit other housing units on the grounds. Thus we could see different living possibilities, like cooperative housing, etc. I was impressed. She treated us to lunch. We ate outside so Foxibeau could mingle. So many trees. So many flowers. Even the heat didn’t overwhelm.

The day after Rossmoor, I invited a trusted real estate agent to come by to estimate how big a profit I could make by selling now. Wow! Who knew?  And to get that amount what improvements would have to be made? He said “small things” like neutral paint, attractive kitchen flooring, modern appliances, and staging.

With this happy vision of my worth, I got serious about researching Rossmoor. I read and reread the weekly Rossmoor News, 50 pages a week with lists of organized trips to places all over the world like Ireland and Holland, hiking forays along the parkway trails, bus trips into the city to museums, the Ferry Building, etc. And at least 200 clubs.

One problem though. From San Francisco to the gated senior community of Rossmoor, which sprawls between Lafayette and Walnut Creek, it’s only 25.3 miles. But the distance is more about diversity than the inconvenience of the drive. While some of my best friends are not (fill in the blank) I have acclimated to the mix of people in the city. I am learning to live outside my comfort zone. 

 White people and people between the ages of 55 and up are fine with me. After all that is what I am. Yet, for whatever reason, I value a range of humanity and the need for humility in the face of multiple cultural options. Not to say that every white person in a gated community suffers from entitlement or inbreeding or even agrees with every other white neighbor.

Overall, there is a lot to like about Rossmoor and gated retirement communities in general. But would I be getting out of town so that my son and granddaughter will want to visit once or twice a year. Whose wellbeing is really at the center of my concern? It may sound like it’s all about the two of them, but it could also be about experiencing myself as endlessly nurturing and generous. Lots to ponder. 

robin hinchliffe
7/31/2014 07:18:48 am

good questions

Guy Rittger
7/31/2014 10:59:25 am

It's not only about what you would or wouldn't get from the experience of living in a place like Rossmoor, but what you would bring to some of those living there whose lives and perspectives might be influenced by your own experience and insights. One need not be just a passive receiver of external influences but an active contributor of alternative modes of being in the world. Either way, it would be a challenging undertaking. I'm as mindful and leary of the potentially corrosive and desensitizing influence of white privilege as the next person, but Jess didn't rule out ministering to the affluent and privileged, providing a perspective from which they might otherwise be insulated.

Sonnie Willis
8/1/2014 04:57:24 am

Nice things first. I have a very good friend who lives at Rossmore.
An art professor emeritus. Twenty years ago he gave me a tour of his home and the many features of living there in an effort to get me to move into the complex. I wanted to move out of Sebastopol. I preferred San Francisco for many reasons. Second, someone broke the front door window of my car. Made a terrible mess. The car was parked inside a so called locked garage where I pay rent for the privilege of parking. Second time for window breaking. My previous car was stolen from the property. I've written to others that car glass breaking is a large outdoor sport in this city.

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