Life In Words | Musical Association
My other themed post for the week is strictly writing based. It’s going to be mostly stream of conciousness/free writing/whatever it becomes. Not necessarily looking for comments or input, just want to be present and give my brain a creative workout.
I’m driving down the road exiting off the main strip to the side road, heading to the grocery store. The grocery store is my little bit of solitude these days. For weeks it was Chris who made our weekly grocery store runs and I’d stay home with Forest. Of course there were instances when we all made the trek together but in those early days with all three of us invariably Forest needed a trip to the changing station in the women’s restroom at least twice and by the end of the trip he would tell me he was hungry, or maybe he was just fussy and was sick of being in his car seat and at the grocery store. Eventually though, I started wanting to head to the grocery store myself so I could peruse the aisles and get the things I wanted to snack on during the week. Chris was generally pretty good about getting the things I wanted but if I didn’t elaborate on what the ‘good bread’ was I usually got his version of the ‘good bread’.
As I’m exiting the road that will soon become a toll-road but is now just a 50 mile-per-hour four lane roadway, Don Henley’s The Last Worthless Evening comes onto the HD radio station I’m listening to. Don Henley is an insant trigger of flashbacks to Florida. Before I lived in Florida for eight years his songs recalled the vacations I spent there with my family. Post living in Florida I can instantly recall all sorts of scenarios from times in Florida. For some reason this day I recalled a trip down U.S. 41 from Sarasota with my former boss (Hi, Steve!). We’d visited a parcel of property there and he’d decided to take the scenic route down U.S. 41 to Ft. Myers and Naples instead of jumping onto the faster I-75 to the east. The drive was scenic through small towns filled with retirees in winter and vacationers in summer. When we came to Ft. Myers I remember wishing I could just exit off and head to Sanibel Island, one of the vacation spots from my youth. Sanibel was why I wanted to live in Florida.
The last time I was in Sanibel was Christmas of 2009, before we left Florida in February 2010 and went hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It was a spur of the moment trip with our friends Marc and Eliana after we’d had Christmas with them at their house in Miami, they’d invited us to trek along with them over to the southwest coast for a few days. For some reason Florida felt so much more ripe for exploring than Texas does—maybe it’s the crappy public to private land ratio we have here.
Sometimes I catch glimpses of Florida here in Texas. Usually its the way the light is hitting at a particular moment in the day, sometimes it is the smell of the pine needles in the sun, or the whine of a hawk overhead. The funny thing is sometimes in the north-central part of Florida I’d see a scene, usually some lumbering live oak in a field, and think “That looks like Texas.”
Memory, it’s a peculiar thing.
I vacationed here as a child and that’s why I eventually settled here. I had no intentions of living here, but when I did move here, it felt totally right. My parents’ first “big” splurge was the lot my house now sits on- they bought the lot in the early 70’s for a few thousand dollars back when the island was a dream and not developed.
And it was vastly different in the 80’s, too. I go between knowing my heart is rooted here to being heartbroken that the island has lost itself, in a way. But I’m so happy Gracie gets to grow up on an island like this, so close to nature and being able to spend every day outside. I think my “inner child” has always lived here, so moving here felt exactly right once I did it.
Loved reading your memories of Florida. It’s a cool place- a mixed bag, certainly, but there’s something about it… beyond the tourist stuff, the snowbird stuff, the vacation destination stuff. Something pure and untamed and undiscovered and waiting.
Yes I too think of times of Florida when I’m driving around down there around your area. I get drawn into a memory of family times on vacation. I catch myself smiling and missing you and your brother being kids again.