We moved to South Carolina for different reasons than most people. Our friends were moving away or dying. My time as a lobbyist for rural schools has ended. I still have some contacts with legislators, but just sporadic phone calls. Those were the reasons, not the weather.
I live in adult Disneyworld (Sun City). This is an over 55 community. The overwhelming number of them has come down here to retire in the real sense of the word. There are so many activities here on campus that some people get sick joining everything that there is available. There are even two softball leagues and a great field to play on. Whatever your interest, there is a club.
You can hang around with interest groups, people from your state, and people with the same disease that you have and play golf to your heart’s content. Those are out retirees. They have worked hard all their lives and they deserve these moments in the sun.
I am not involved in any of those activities. I do belong to one club- the Doo Wop club. We listen and sometimes sing to old doo wop records. The leader of the club is the best doo wop historian I have ever heard. I can listen to him forever. Tonight there will be a doo wop dance and I am looking forward to it.
I do exercise here on campus. That’s about it. I have few friends that I have made here. My friends come from Harrisburg, where I lived before coming here. I have really no individual friend’s that I have made. Our couples friends go out with us, come to our home and play funny card games, and drink diet caffeine free Coke.
My life is outside the walls of Sun City. As it has been for most of my adult years, I advocate for rural schools and communities. My favorite times down here are when I meet with juniors and seniors from the Ridgeland Hardee High School and spend time with them. They fill me with joy and sometimes sadness. You can’t win them all, but when you get a text from a young man who I had to push hard to get to a college, it is all worth it.
Carol works with 10 young women. They are tougher than the guys. They are incredibly hard on each other. We have spent many hours with people who live here and understand that kind of culture. Carol has saved, at least 3 young women from going down the tubes. There is so much more to be done.
The kids here are the same as anywhere else in rural America. They mostly have not been out of their county, not have they flown, taken a train or gotten to other parts of the country or world. We try very hard to have them see that there are other places and other opportunities rather than making up beds in hotels on Hilton Head Island.
The students that we are working with are articulate, intelligent and soak up things like a sponge. Some are closer to me than others. There are those who shy away from either a handshake or an NFL hug (no touching). Some though feel comfortable enough to give me a big hug when they come into our meeting and then when they leave. Some are so big that they make me disappear in their embrace.
Unless some disease fells me, or I become senile, I will continue to work with the kids. I will not retire.