Baby Boomers, Growing Up In Miami and…Pizza!

My regular readers may have noticed that I did not post any new material this past week.  There is a reason for that.  I was in Miami (Florida) last weekend for the “Bird Road Baby Boomers” reunion at Tropical Park.

Now if you’re not from Miami you’re probably scratching your head wondering exactly what (or who) are the “Bird Road Baby Boomers.”  Allow me to explain.

I grew up in Miami, lived there for most of the first 34 years of my life, in fact.  Moreover, I am a second-generation Miami native since my mom was born there as well (in Coral Gables).  Again, that may not mean much to you if you’re not from the area, but you have to realize that up until the early part of the last century, Miami was little more than a one-horse town with a lovely beach area that was home to a number of gangsters (Al Capone, for example, had a place on Miami Beach).  In fact, even in the middle part of the 20th century there was still plenty of room for families to come in and put down roots, which they finally started doing because by that time there was a way to control the mosquitoes and you could make a home *almost* bearable with fans and, later, window air conditioners.

As a Floridian I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for central air conditioning.  I grew up in a home with no air-conditioning and I can still remember lying in bed on a summer night unable to sleep because I was sweating (or rather, perspiring) so profusely.  Furthermore, the air coming in through the open windows was so still and hot that, if anything, it just made things worse.  I can also remember going to high school and wondering how a certain friend could look so amazing when we were in classrooms that were easily 95 degrees with humidity of close to 100%.  She said her secret was talcum powder.  Somehow it never worked quite so well for me.

In any case, one of the (many) main drags in Miami is 40th Street, known to the locals as “Bird Road.”  It is the site for one of the best pizza places in the world: Frankie’s Pizza – and you can even get their pizza shipped to you!  It also is home to Tropical Park which started out as a horse track (they were still racing horses there when I was a kid) and later turned into a huge park for various recreational and exercise facilities along with a stadium where the local high schools played football.  It now also houses an “equestrian center” which is where the Bird Road Baby Boomers event was held last weekend.

The concept for the event, a clever one I think, was to invite alumni of the baby boomer generation that had attended the various public high schools in the vicinity (a half-dozen or so) to a big-time reunion that would allow friends from different classes and schools to reconnect and also, to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

I had missed my 30-year high school reunion two years ago due to me and my kids coming down with swine flu, so when I heard that someone from my class of 1979 was planning a “birthday party” as a bash within a bash, I said, “Sign me up!”

Which brings me to a secret that I now must share to my chagrin – I am turning 50 this month.  You see, the reason for the “birthday party” for those of my graduating class is that this is the year that most of us are turning 50.  Ouch.  And for the record, I contend that all those people who smugly assert that “age is just a number” have been reading way too many motivational posters.  I would suggest a steady diet of “De-Motivational” posters starting with perhaps this one: Self-Esteem.

I’ve got plenty of body parts that can attest to the fact that age is not “just a number.”  My creaky hip for one.  But never mind that.

Frankly, I can see that there are a few good aspects to turning 50.  For most of us, once we hit our 30’s and especially 40’s (and beyond) we begin to see how incredibly stupid most humans under the age of 25 are.  And I’m not talking about book-smarts or even, necessarily, uneducated.  I mean they actually believe that, for instance, their actions have no consequences.  The truly sad thing is when you see someone in their 30’s or, for that matter, in their 70’s that still believes that their actions have no consequences.  They are generally the people whose family members are no longer speaking to them and whose friends are either long-gone or just as messed-up as they are.  Age is supposed to bring experience and wisdom.  Even if sometimes that wisdom comes from walking through some hard times.

I also think that turning 50 grants me a certain license to be lazy, indifferent, or even a little loopy.  Not in an irresponsible manner, mind you.  Not in any way that would hurt someone else.  But why, for goodness sake, shouldn’t I take a nap if I feel like it?  Or scream like a crazy person at a Seminoles football game?  I mean, I’ve lived half a century, darn it!

On the other hand, life at 50 for me is not quite like life at 50 for most women.  In the days leading up to the Bird Road Baby Boomers bash, I was communicating via e-mail with one of the coordinators about some questions I had.  I mentioned that I was a member of the “Fabulous at 50” group.  In my e-mail I remarked that, by having our own little “bash within a bash” celebrating our 50th birthdays, we were sort of trying to turn lemons into lemonade.  Her reply was something along the lines that “in your 50’s it’s all lemonade.”  In other words, your kids are grown, you’re enjoying your grandchildren, and you have the time and money to travel and pursue your own interests.

There’s just one problem.  Actually it’s a joy, but nevertheless, what it amounts to is that I am not in the stage of life where: my kids are all grown, I’m enjoying my grandchildren and I have the time and money to travel and play.

I do have two grown children (no grandchildren yet, but that’s okay!) but I also have two children that I’m still homeschooling and one of them is only nine!  I’m in the throes of getting my high school senior son applied to college and college scholarships all the while I am teaching my nine-year old long division.  And while I generally like math, I hate long division.  It goes against all the other rules of solving equations and it’s just annoying.

In any case, I made it to Miami where I attended two events: one on Friday night for the members of my class of ’79, and another on Saturday where I got to see those classmates again as well as a number of other people that were not in my class but that I had known well at one point in my life.  Many of the people I reconnected with that weekend were, in fact, people I had gone to elementary school with and who had lived in my neighborhood!  It was wild.  I had an absolute blast.  (And while it’s dry as dust in Tallahassee right now it rained both days in Miami and I managed to get soaked at both events!  Oh well.  Living life on the edge, right?)

Well, I might not be exactly living life on the edge.  Unlike one of my (female) cousins who is only two months older than me, I am most definitely not jumping on my Harley to travel the country.  But that’s okay.  I have the pleasure of snuggling on the couch with my nine-year old listening to the classical composers, or laughing over a funny story, or solving long division problems.  Actually, maybe we should just move on to fractions.  Yeah, let’s do that!

P.S.  For those who would say that reunions like this are (à la #15 and maybe #24 of The Bitter Home-Schooler’s Wish List) a reason why kids should not be homeschooled because they would miss out on the wonderful memories and camaraderie, I say, “Pshaw!”  (Yes, it’s a word!)  My daughter still keeps in touch with homeschooling friends she grew up with and, moreover, she has been a member for many years of the Home School Alumni organization.  HSA has members from all over the country who get together for national conferences as well as smaller regional and local events.  My daughter has coordinated and attended some of these events and made many wonderful friends as a result.  If you have a child who has graduated, or will soon be graduating, your homeschool program, make sure they check out HSA!

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  • Colette

    How cool you linked to HSA!  You are the best! 😀

    • Anonymous

      Just doing my part!  🙂