The Life Of A Newly-Hatched Snowbird

How does one uproot post-retirement from the slow-as-molasses, Land of Sweet Tea and Southern Manners in blissfully predictable Alabama to a vibrant, funky, colorful beach town with sugary, sandy beaches and fat, tasty blue crabs,

How does one uproot post-retirement from the slow-as-molasses, Land of Sweet Tea and Southern Manners in blissfully predictable Alabama to a vibrant, funky, colorful beach town with sugary, sandy beaches and fat, tasty blue crabs, effortless sunshine, island time, all day bike rides, and more art than one can inhale? Well, it isn’t easy, especially if you just joined the Flock of Snowbirds. It’s certainly best pray to The Patron Saint of Stability before you fly south, but the transition can be done and worth every second.

 

I will share with you my experiences from living a life in the best of both worlds, no matter what cities have you splitting your loyalty. For me, I am migrating from a colder winter region to a place that could be called “Satan hot,” so it requires time and patience for these little tender snowbird wings to take flight to and fro.

 

As a cancer patient, seasonal migration keeps you healthier and I am living proof of that. My days are spring and summer all year long, meaning physical activity is always available and accessible. I felt the welcoming climate it my bones the first 6 months and I became so much stronger. But don’t start packing just yet, baby cakes…nothing is instant or perfect. There are challenges and additional expenses with living in 2 places year around!  However, if you physically can pull it off, I highly encourage it. Aside from dealing with home maintenance, utilities and mail, pets and medical care, when you bask in the sunshine next to the aqua green ocean and your favorite book and some lovely tunes, you will discover it is worth it. Trust me on this path, as I am not known for being Miss Flexibility!

 

You will be moving and travelling and I can tell you that 15 pairs of earrings are not necessary if you are basking in warm weather all year. A must is important medical documents, checkbooks, health insurance information and contact information regarding your main home. It can be done without a family as I was blessed with a lovely neighbor that I paid to watch my home.

 

In Florida, the couture is shorts and t-shirts with comfy sandals. All dressy clothes were a total waste of time to pack. Go wild with colors and good vibes and take risks. Retirement is a time in life not to be boring. I’ve learned to tone it all down in the make-up department and it is amazing how a nice suntan can be used instead of heavy foundation make-up. Less is more in a leisurely environment, plus nobody wants to be sweating all that face paint off!

 

Making life simple in every way is the key. I did not pack a POD or stuff a U-Haul of household or kitchen things to the condo. In fact, my kitchen and home were decorated from a very upscale shop called “The Salvation Army” and local consignment stores.  They are a treasure trove of fabulousness in all cities, but Florida is especially rich in second-hand shopping! My cookware and kitchen gadgets are better quality than I have at my main home, at a fraction of the cost … and, you’ll see yourself start becoming a conservationist when you’re enjoying the outdoors so much, so shopping used saves the landfills of so much junk! It’s kind of like the American Express commercial where you only bring your toothbrush and buy the rest where you land. It can be done just great on a budget. Who needs to haul a moving truck from one location to another? Not you, honey! You will pack lighter and lighter each trip. Less decisions to make equals more free time for fun.

 

I’m not a seasoned snowbird yet, but with the right attitude, I’ve decided it is the best of both worlds. Broadening my circle to include more social communities and lifestyles invites new connections and experiences. Great friends await, with new stories and hilarious odd ways of doing things you’ve never seen before, from ingenious ways of cutting avocados to obscene ways of making out at dinner tables. I can tell you, going out to dinner with new couples really helps you forget the tired old rants of the locals you’re used to… and you know what, when you return, those locals may actually have gathered up a few new stories in your absence! You will undoubtedly have tales to regale to them, too. Yes, you will have to cancel your newspapers and prepare your main home, but you will also open yourself up to a lot more happenings than you can find on your Facebook news feed or your usual nail salon. My wings are stronger each season, my “nests” more welcoming and deeper rooted, and my life is filled with more love, peace, and sense of belonging that I ever could have imagined. Never be afraid to fly off to new horizons.

 

Feature image from www.pexels.com, courtesy of www.pexabay.com

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Cindy Small
Cindy Small arrived in N. Alabama following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A native of New Orleans, she graduated from Tulane University with an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Masters in Historic Preservation Studies. She spends her spare time writing a weekly “Spotlight” column for The Decatur Daily as well as reading her non-fiction short stories on NPR. Published in various literary journals, her writings are always humorous added with a speck of arsenic.