May 1, 2006 at 2:16 pm (Personal)

for the record, i'd like to say that i'm pissed because i wrote a long entry that was erased after i clicked publish. now with that said, i'll go on with my life.

on some days, like today, the level of nostalgia i feel is almost unbearable. i often spend most days just trying to figure out what i feel nostalgic about. often to no avail.

but today i was outside walking Tillie and the smell of freshly cut grass found its way to me and started the wheels in motion. maybe it was that combined with the completely cloudless sky, almost unnaturally blue in its color this morning. it could have been the white fence that stretches through my yard; on sunny days, it's absolutely blinding. or it could have just been the warmth of the sun on my face and arms as i stood impatiently waiting for Tillie to do her business. whatever it was, it made me long for something in my past and i didn't even know what.

this afternoon, my mother asked if i would take her to bed, bath, & beyond. i agreed and on the way home, i needed to stop to fill my car up with gas. waiting for my tank to be filled, my window was completely open and i felt a familiar type of breeze circulate through my car. it was that same late afternoon breeze i've experienced dozens of times in Florida when i was a little girl. the one that would develop as the sun was starting to lose it's strength and the nightly thunderstorms were beginning to roll in. those thunderstorms would scare me half to death, but i'd still sit out on the lanai with my great-grandfather and watch the lightning scatter through the sky. the rains would drench everything and in the morning, there'd always be a turtle or two in the backyard. and everything would smell of fresh earth.

the cycle would start again that morning. again, we'd all get into my grandfather's ugly purple minivan. we [my grandparents, my mother, and i] would drive all morning. we were perpetual tourists, looking at every racetrack, every stadium. every palm tree was somehow nicer than the last. my grandfather would drive for miles, all the while talking about something he saw on the discovery channel the night before. his English was never that great, so he would always give you facts that were completely wrong simply because he didn't understand better. everyone would be talking and i'd be staring out the window, watching the concrete roads disappear into a haze of heat.

every ancient tree with Spanish moss in Florida state was looked at by my grandfather. he adored them. every restaurant owned by Gloria Estefan or another Cuban was visited by us. (my grandfather felt we owed it to them; we had to help fellow Cubans prosper. it was like some kind of brotherhood or something.) every tour of the swamp on those propeller boats was the same. every walk on the beach in Miami was the same. each Cuban bakery featured the same smell of rich spices as the last. and each person who ran those bakeries treated me like a daughter. every gunshot in the middle of the night in Little Havana sounded exactly like the last. and every morning in Homestead was filled with the same freshness in the air. the lime trees looked the same every morning across the street from the house. the bars on every apartment looked the same in Little Havana. the sunburns hurt just as bad each time and my skin was just as dark by the end of every summer. everything was always the same. yet every time anything happened, it always felt like the first time. i could have gone to that seedy little aquarium every day. sure, they only had one dolphin and about two tanks of fish. but it didn't matter. that long drive to key west seemed like a blink of an eye now — now that i'm 20 and everything about my childhood seems like it never really happened.

admittedly, part of me tries to suppress simple memories. even complex memories, for that matter. my childhood was filled with things that weren't always that great and that makes me forget that there were ever good times at all. i guess i just hated Milltown and the people in it so much that even now i think if i can just forget that whole period in my life, i'll be happy. and the truth is, i think it's actually the opposite. it won't be until i actually let go enough to remember that period and talk about it freely that i'll be happy. because there were so many good things that happened. and i want to be able to remember them.


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