Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gated Leisure

We are just not gated community people. We're not exactly rule breaking rebels without a cause, but as relaxed semi- unschoolers we try not to have a lot of pointless rules. We live in the country, with some space between ourselves and our neighbors, and plenty of privacy to do what we want, but we do have friends and family who like the suburban subdivision lifestyle- CC&Rs and all, it suits them just fine. My very sweet aunt offered us the use of her home in a very suburban subdivision while we were heading to southern California, and it was a great chance for our family to learn about rules. My aunt was out of town herself, so unfortunately we didn't get to see her, nor my uncle, but we were happy to have a place to stay to break up our trip, and relax before we hit the insanity of Los Angeles and Disneyland.
The place was in a gated community with "Leisure" in the name, but I sense that the majority of folks living there are a lot more into their rules than leisure. Who knows, maybe all the rules help them to relax, but they tend to make me feel like I'm about to get into trouble any minute.
There was a guard at the entrance to ask 50 questions, which must be answered correctly in order to open the gates to the village. Once in, the lawns are all manicured and perfect. I only saw 2 or 3 people on the streets; none were under 60 years old, and none of them smiled. My kids did the big friendly waves anyway, because that's how they are. We saw a few gray haired heads peeking out windows at us, but no children anywhere, which led me to think this may be a seniors community. 
My band of hillbilly hoodlums immediately wanted to run across those lovely green lawns and do cartwheels, but I had the distinct feeling that such a display of unruliness and joy would be frowned upon. In fact, I think children themselves may not have been approved of, and mine especially with all their unencumbered laughing out loud might just ruin the calm order that was there. It was a good chance to learn about different subcultures and talk about following rules in the place you are, even if they aren't the rules at home.
We were very thankful to have the lovely condo to relax and stay in, but I knew that my kids' leisure was of a different pace, and they are easier to live with if they can let loose. So, I took them to the closest beach to get a little of that healthy kid energy out and have some fun. 

They threw rocks....

They climbed cliffs................

We had a lovely picnic............

And I read and worked on perfecting my lounge act. It was wonderfully relaxing and free of rules.

After we had our fill of beach, we found a neighborhood of charming old homes that was gate free, with nice paved sidewalks in which we could roller skate without worry.........

Husband is a sailor, and must always stop at harbors. So before heading back to our Leisure Spot, he wanted to walk amongst the boats dreaming. We skated along happily...........

Until we came upon this........

The rules seem to be everywhere, and somehow, we seem to be breaking (or at least stretching) them on a fairly regular basis.

I later learned that my aunt and uncle are the token Latinos in the gated community, and so perhaps the neighbors were watching us more closely because of the curiosity. This made me giggle because my aunt is a wonderfully zany woman who lives life to the fullest, and is not at all quiet with her love and happiness. My cousin told me that on her last visit to her mother, they rescued a perfectly good lamp and chair from the curbside trash in the Leisurely community. This display of crazy Colombians dumpster diving probably gave the neighbors plenty to talk about for weeks.

The nice thing about a community such as this is that it is amazingly quiet at night, which cannot be said about many other neighborhoods in a city of the same size. There was no blasting music, loud talkers or cars driving by late around there. We slept deliciously, and left feeling well rested and ready for hitting the bigger and louder cities that were next on our trip.

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