I Went to Florida and Glimpsed My Life in the Year 2045


Picture it: Ellenton, Florida, 2016.

I'm floating in a heated pool when all of a sudden I hear a very raspy New York accent break the silence. A woman named Janice is chatting up her friend while suntanning on a pair of lounge chairs. From the looks of Janice's skin, it seems as if she hasn't skipped a day of sun since the Clinton administration. Her mop of short gray hair is a stark contrast to her brown, leathery skin.

This was my fourth and final day in Senior's Paradise. (Real name: Colony Cove, a community where my New York parents have purchased a home to escape the harsh winters of the Northeast -- they are now what Florida residents call "Snowbirds.") I got a taste of the retired life. And compared to the non-stop routines and jam-packed schedules of my Los Angeles existence, it was a welcome relief.


Here's what went down during my time in South Florida:

THURSDAY

6:45am - The town car that picked me up at Tampa International pulls into Colony Cove, "a resort-style community designed around an active 55+ lifestyle, with waterfront views to spare and a variety of amenities and activities to enjoy." It's still dark outside, the buttcrack of dawn. I'm running on one hour of sleep after my red-eye flight.

8:45am - I struggle to stay awake while I eat some scrambled eggs and sausage cooked by my father.

11am - We visit my aunt and uncle who literally live around a corner and several houses down from my parents. It's St. Patrick's Day, so most of us are wearing our best green.

11:30am - My parents and I drive to the Manatee Observatory...and see no manatee in sight due to the warm weather that has caused the mammals to migrate earlier than expected. I get my hands on an iced coffee at the snack bar because RED-EYE FLIGHT.


12:30pm - We stop for lunch at a non-descript "family restaurant" called Popi's Place IV on the side of the road. It's homey and features a dry-erase board of specials. I consider having fun with our waitress by asking if they have a gluten-free menu or any kale smoothies ("because I'm from L.A."), but I refrain from playing the role of Obnoxious Out-of-Town Asshole. Instead, I order the Shepherd's Pie and don't regret it. It hits the spot. I rub my belly and look around. At 35, I am the youngest patron in the joint.

2pm - Back to my parents' place. Some couch lounging ensues.

5:30pm - We walk into my aunt and uncle's house, immediately greeted by the warm smells of corned beef, cabbage, and boiled potatoes. It smells absolutely delicious.

9pm - Lights out for most residents of Colony. While some neighbors curl up with a Mary Higgins Clark novel or fall asleep to Dancing with the Stars (what I imagine in my head), I pop in a Blu-ray of Spotlight and introduce the Oscar winning film to my parents.

FRIDAY

9:30am - Breakfast is leftover Irish soda bread from our St. Patrick's Day dinner, slathered in butter. I take a walk around the neighborhood. Several residents in golf carts zip by and wave. I wave back, even though I have no clue who these people are. But it's what you do here.

A video posted by Hiko Mitsuzuka (@thefirstecho) on

10:15am - I help my mom assemble the Lego Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine that I brought as a housewarming gift. It's better than putting together a 500-piece puzzle of kittens in a basket. (She's Scooby's #1 fan.)

3pm - We arrive at Manatee Beach in my uncle's minivan, walk out onto the sand, unfold our chairs and just sit there, looking out at the Gulf of Mexico.

SATURDAY

10am - We hit up some shopping malls. I find a Kenneth Cole leather jacket on sale. A gorgeous thunderstorm rolls in.

1:50pm - I treat my parents and my aunt to a rainy afternoon matinee of 10 Cloverfield Lane. I am able to afford this act of generosity because tickets run at $8 a pop. Eight. Dollars.

7pm - The Big Dance at Harmony Hall, the biggest community center in Colony Cove. Nothing but the biggest hits from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and yes, even the 80s. It's also BYOB and BYOOT (Bring Your Own Oxygen Tank -- just kidding...I think.) The Electric Slide is probably the highlight of the event, and I immediately flashback to the 80s during which I was ring bearer in two wedding parties:

A video posted by Hiko Mitsuzuka (@thefirstecho) on

SUNDAY

10am - Pool time. (The aforementioned Janice and her golden brown skin.)

1pm - Before heading back to the airport, we all have a nice seafood lunch at a place called Anna Maria Oyster Bar. At the table next to us is a well-dressed woman in her 60s who cuts up a hamburger patty for her adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (seated next to her). Her perfume is strong, floral, a fragrance that is probably discontinued at most department stores. For some reason, I call her Blanche in my head and picture her driving home in a spotless 1982 Cadillac Seville.

If this is what life has in store for me in 30 years, then so be it.

@TheFirstEcho

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