Columnist for a Day: 60 is the new 40, gray is the new blonde

Southern Oregon is experiencing a flood of retiring Boomers.

The term Boomer was derived from baby boom, which was a post-World War II statistical thing that showed increased births. If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you are a Boomer!

I was born in 1955, and my mom had six children. Most of my peers come from families with five to nine siblings. Yes, a good friend of mine had eight siblings.

Today, Southern Oregon boomers in their 60s are partying like it’s still the ’60s, but now they have money to do it. Marijuana and wine are plentiful in the Applegate Valley, the Medford airport is 30 minutes from everywhere, and a plethora of cutting-edge hospitals are just an ambulance away.

Southern Oregon is very attractive to retiring Boomers. We have colleges with free senior programs, famous theater venues, distilleries, wineries, cheese producers, all four seasons, skiing, history and extensive natural beauty. Who wouldn’t want to live here? Boomers are heading our way. I live in Jacksonville, and I hear rumors about changing the name to Boomerville. The gold rush is off and the age rush is on.

We Boomers feel like we are still young and reliving our heady days with well-earned retirement cash. Sometimes I flip my gray tresses over my shoulder like they are shimmering blond and think about sitting in the sun with a glass of wine. Well, those who survived the real estate crash and market low in 2007 can relive those carefree college days. Alas, the rest of us are bunking up with friends and family, trading skills for a room and trying to make ends meet with a meager social security check. Yup, people in their 60s are still living in their college memories, in different ways. It’s not a bad thing.

These are strange but normal times. Back in the day a house consisted of an extended family. Mom, dad, kids, grandparents and grand kids. Today many households are a collection of unrelated people just trying to exist. The group becomes a family even though it isn’t related. This can be a good thing, because you can’t choose who you are related to but you can choose who you could live with.

I can’t say that I would have chosen to live with all my siblings. They are nothing like me. I probably would have chosen my mother though, because she is a warrior. I always felt safe, but that is the kind of energy a person exudes, and it doesn’t have to come from a relative. We are all people and can lean into our human roles.

If you look at the parameters of our existence today, it isn’t that different than living structures of the past. The roles just have different names. In the end we are all creatures of our genetics and drift toward natural existence despite social, religious and media expectations. Realistically, as they say, “It’s all good.”

Diane Wallace lives in Jacksonville.

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