Roots

One day within the last week I found myself in – brace yourself, I don’t usually say this – pleasantly warm Florida. Kino’s flipflops on my feet, sunglasses on, and as I like to say, “Sky’s out, thighs out!” This particular morning I felt was best to roam my old neighbourhood, where my mother still resides, and walk the streets I once called home. I needed to get my “steps” in anyway, being a bit more sedentary in Florida than I am when back in New York.

In a town and place that doesn’t change too much, my old ‘hood certainly has. You can tell some houses have been re-painted, roofs updated, or are up for sale; some have gotten worse, perhaps falling into foreclosure; and some haven’t changed at all. As I always do when visiting, I find myself indulging in a bit of nostalgia and being pulled (consciously? subconsciously?) to my old street.

If you don’t know, nearly fives years ago, my family and I were forced from my childhood home. My mom and I thankfully settled in my grandparent’s old house on the other side of the subdivision, so the move wasn’t far at all, but it was a traumatic one nonetheless. I always get this flutter of nerves as I approach the corner, not sure what expect. Then again, rationally, what really is there to be nervous about?

This day – this warm, sunny, cloudless day in December – was different. I realised while the street had changed, the changes were subtle, but oh so nice. Most of our old neighbours had gone (between death, downsizing, or just starting over), and it was evident the new inhabitants of my old street had taken to updating their homes.

My old house, sat prominently on the bend of the street and seen easily from the nearest cross street, was surrounded by cars. I was happy to see the house was still occupied by the same family who bought it after we left, knowing they are a big, young family and they were probably hosting parties and family for the holidays. The house across from it was greatly improved: it had a fresh, attractive colour scheme and landscaping was incredibly lush; far more so than the previous owners, who did keep their trees and plantings in good condition. There were more trees, bushes, flowers, and even the old ones were larger and fuller than I remembered. The sun backlit the wide, green palm fronds and pierced its way through the thick oak tree on the lawn. The street had a pleasant, positive vibe to it now; a happier one than I remembered on that February day when I had left it all those years ago.

I eventually continued my walk (getting a bit of a tan if I may say so myself!) and went back home to enjoy the day and time with my mom. The photo here is taken from my old street, highlighting some of the new plants I saw (any idea what it is? And is that a gourd? Coconut?). I think I’ll keep it around to happily remind me of that place I used to know.

// Riverview, Florida. December 2016

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