~ My Florida~
I was there as a child of ten. It was truly a sordid age to go anywhere, because I was on the rise- or on the side of that hump of being a teenager. Everywhere I went revealed to me the same scene, my eyes being a film with the same color continually shading them: hot. A blazing, furious red in which all the people around me, tall, languorous girls especially, wore skin-tight, grotesquely-stretched, jail-binding bikinis. Their faces were sleekly skeletal, like protruding bones wearing the latest fashion . . . fashionable women, ha! The men all looked the same.
I digress though. When I arrived in Florida, after a sweltering, hot, clothes- sweaty, musty trip, tired, a few pounds overweight and miserable- sorry- I don’t mean to exaggerate- can’t you tell?- we rented a pastel house. To my shining, bright, excitable young vision, dulled over by years of living in the same environment, this place looked really exotic.
Yes, it really looked exotic to me.
Florida itself was an array of colors. It was a broad, robust spectrum, with a hodgepodge of spontaneity and surprises. Our backyard was fanned by splendidly-branching palm trees, their splayed large feathers above me creating a canopy beneath the sun, one of fringed creative paper. The warmth of the sun bathed my face through this lovely image. Ant-eaters roamed behind our back-porch, which surprised me, and made me squeal with absolute delight.
Time passed, and the initial explosive of being in this wonderful place wore off-
I should say something about the house that we stayed in, because it was unlike anything I had ever known from where I’d come, having been born and raised in Michigan. I’d never seen such splashes of pigment, or enthusiasm. To my ten-year-old mind, the architects in Florida must have really cared about their work, for they went out of their way to create structures that weren’t drab or ordinary. Our house looked like a cottage, and, boy, we must have been living extraordinarily to have such a fine abode. White, sparkling stucco doused the framework alongside a splash of varying apparel. The whole construction was wearing the garb of Jacob from the Bible, it seemed to me- well, it may not have really been a rainbow life, but, honestly, everything was so ripe! It was all so rich in color, texture, and . . . livelihood. I really applaud the bubbly character of the environment, for its painter was inspired, as well as animated. My childhood dream was created. Animals gallivanted betwixt rich vegetation, freely, in a foreign land- no more city streets!
Now I said before that the beauty had a downside, and it’s true that my situation followed Newton’s Law- of course it had an opposite reaction.
I went to Disney World. Now this was no ordinary trip to be true. I was just a kid and I had never been anywhere in the world, nowhere save for Tennessee and Michigan, at least as far as I could remember . . .
When we reached the hustle and bustle of the city life, venturing out of the safe haven that was my beloved Goshen fantasy, I found myself thrown into hot tomatoes. Orlando, Florida, was teaming with folks wearing costumes of characters all across the Disney station, and, as I walked around, the heat of the day made my baggy clothes sag upon me in a sticky, wet manner. My family and I, which consisted of only four, my sister who was three, I, and my parents obviously, walked for hours along the pavement of roasted stones. I watched my steps- and looked up- skinny girls, tall, mesmerizing naked things- encompassed me. So . . .
Orlando was a dripping treat. But it was . . . everywhere I looked tank-tops came, and more tank-tops, long legs . . . looming. I was getting nervous. Frustrated, even.
Wind blew through Orlando.
Haven’t got much more to say about it. I needed a break. I had to move on. The sharp, scalding stones. That was Orlando.
We went on a natural hike through lush vegetation on a hunt for an absolutely golden opportunity- we sought an alligator pond. But, before we caught up to a bed of roses, and I bet the reader won’t guess here- an enormous tortoise, which must have been one hundred years old; sat squat, flat, right in our pathway. An enormous, lump-rock that didn’t move save to cock his wrinkled head at us. Again, gasps of delight escaped me!
And at this point a woman crossed our path who was singularly unfriendly. She didn’t cast a greeting or so much as throw her cold gaze in our direction. So much for Florida’s kindness.
The alligators were a gold sparkly highlight. See, candidly now, I’ll let my readers know truthfully that I love animals, so the crawling, artfully-sculpted lizards creeping along the walls of buildings, watching them as their eyes roll back at me, like pretty Aquafina toothpaste marbles with a strip down the middle of them perhaps- their little fish-fin wings, the frogs hopping towards the pool with my own two sandals- the exotica!- make that place. Florida in my mind was a fresh river beneath the sun, as I walked along a bridge slowly, a moment in time- with a visor on, tank-top of a pink and blast of red resting upon flowered Capris which will forever stain my mind- creates my Florida. Will I ever go back? Yes, most likely. But that is the portrait of the place as I knew it from the first, when I was only a girl. Thus I will always remember that picture time-capsule . . . this pen won’t let me forget it.
Ha ha! Pros and cons, just like everything. Yet still, I loved it.