Our new place is in a gated community. When I say gated community I don't mean a place where you pull up to get in & have to punch in a code or call the people you are coming to visit. This place has guards (we like to call them Condo Commandoes), 24 hours a day. We have to have a barcode sticker on our cars to get in the gate without pestering (& really, they subtlely let you know) the Commandoes. I don't like it.
The primary reason I wanted to live here is because there are over 9 miles of walking trails here. By walking trails, I mean paved paths through true conservation areas with actual trees, not just telephone poles with shrubs on top (aka palm trees). The community is also on a slow-moving river that connects to the intercoastal & in the winter manatees migrate up into the river because it's warmer. There are complementary kayak rentals for residents. We are going to be checking this out as soon as we can find a way to try it without MiniMe.
But there are two golf courses here. Very swanky golf courses. With golfers that meet a certain demographic that seems to lead them to believe they can look down on individuals they feel don't meet their criteria to deserve politeness. Case in point: MiniMe & I headed out for a stroll down to the playground with our dogs. It was a good mile to mile & a half walk. After a week of moving, I thought she'd be glad to be outside for a long time with my undivided attention. They have bathrooms on the course that are locked, opened by keys for the golf carts. MiniMe, being 3 years old, can't always anticipate very well yet that she might have to go to the bathroom before we reached the playground & doesn't quite understand why someone would lock her out from a toilet. As we were walking, there was one such bathroom directly across the street from our path & she very clearly asked to please use one. Thankfully, there were golfers at the bathroom. When I explained to MiniMe that the doors were locked & one of golfers were going to have to let us in, she walked right up to one man & asked, "Can you please let me go to the bathroom?" She was polite. She was brave. She was assertive. I was proud. The guy first acted like he didn't hear her, so she persisted with her previous request, but now proceeded with "Excuse me!". The guy finally looked down his nose at her, literally, gave her a one-sided smirk, & said, "Are you walking your dogs in your pajamas?" Completely bypassing her request. Completely oblivious to her manners & genuine patience. I was trying to get the dogs on a shorter leash, so I was too overwhelmed to actually speak up before that group rode off on their carts, snarkily chuckling at how smart they are that they can demean a 3 year old. The starter was just on the other side of the building, thankfully, so I asked him to let her use that bathroom. He seemed a little put out, but did grant us access.
I have to explain that I was once the assistant manager at a private golf club in Ann Arbor, where the likes of Tom Monahan, Bill Clay Ford are members. I'm not a golfer, but I worked as a waitress in the clubhouse for 2 years & the members were so pleased with my service & attention to detail that I was put in this position. I can't imagine any of those members ever hesitating to allow a child access to a bathroom.
This brings us to a brief discussion on gated communities. I don't like them. They don't make me feel safer. They don't make me more likely to approach a neighbor or wave at a passerby while walking the dogs. I do those things anyway. I don't like my visitors having to be screened before they can come to my house. More than anything, I don't like the idea that someone has to be qualified to be where I am. I'm not the first person, certainly not the first planner, to bring this up. I'm just reiterating my opinion, now more enlightened from the experience. I don't like someone else deciding who can be a part of my community.
I've thought about some way I can say something that isn't redundant or obvious about the whole contrived community, here. What I've come up with is that I want to take a moment to recognize the blog community I am becoming a part of. The community where my old friend can stop by & catch up, where my neighbors know me by what has been written instead of the cars we drive, our dogs, or as the ones who never take their garbage cans back in & darn it, we've got to report them. I like this community where I can ogle over Rebecca's darling Fable, marvel at Sarah's preserves, worry over Ivy, giggle at Mimi, even offend Jim. It's much more diverse than reality while still maintaining some sort of relativity.
But hey, the view out our backdoor is pretty swell...