There was a little stream that ran parallel behind the place on Lindell Boulevard. I’d walk there sometimes to enjoy the calmness of a Florida afternoon in Delray. There were so many things to notice, like the palm trees, or the pool behind the complex.
Some of the rear facing apartments had patios, which were mainly rented by people with grandchildren.
Most often the patios were empty with only a few toys that grandparents kept safe for their grandchildren whenever they would visit. There was something to the atmosphere that was comforting to say the least.
I had my share of things that were kept safe for my visits. There was a fishing rod and small tackle box with a few different lures in the closet by the door. The tackle was weak but effective whenever I walked down to the stream and fished for a while.
I had never seen a peacock bass before then. It’s a pretty fish. There were some largemouth bass in the stream as well, and sunfish too, of course, which all kept me busy for a while.
I have always noticed the bristliness of the grass in Florida. And the smells too, which I immediately identified as soon as I stepped off the plane. The difference in air would hit me the moment I walked through the airport at West Palm or Ft. Lauderdale. I used to fly down to either or, depending upon the deal I’d get on the airfare.
I remember the feelings I’d have when the plane landed. I remember the walk over to the car rentals and the nervousness that mounted in me because I just wanted to “Get there.”
Then there was the move to Vero Beach, which was a nice place. The cottage was small but quaint and the attention to the renters was much kinder than the place in Delray.
This was more of an assisted living. The grounds were peaceful. The little pond was relaxing and so was the weeping willow that rooted nearby.
There was a brief stint in Port St. Lucie, which was unpleasant at best but fortunately, there were forces on our side.
We found ourselves a place near home, which was as close to Boca as we could come. This was more like home than anyplace else.
I remember the move. I remember the flight down and the one of only two cars that was available to me at my price range.
The woman behind the desk at the rental agency began to laugh. She asked me if I was certain on my refusal to upgrade, to which I declined each times she offered.
She explained there were only two cars for economy. I explained this was fine since I was only interested in one of them.
The agent shrugged her shoulders with a smile and said, “Okay,” with finny but mild tone of sarcasm.
“You’ll understand when you see the car,” she said.
“How bad could it be,” I thought. to myself.
I was given my key and thanked the woman for her service.
She was right.
There were very few cars left in the economy lot. The key that was given to me operated a small, powder pink little Fiat, which was less fitting for me than say, any other car on the lot.
I turned around and walked back inside to address the woman at the counter. She was smiling and trying not to laugh.
I asked about the available cars in my price range. She repeated the fact that there were only two.
After seeing the one which was less fitting, I inquired about the other with hopes for something better. This was also a Fiat but the color was white.
The car was not tough by any means but at least white beat pink in my opinion.
I loaded my things in the trunk and drove away. I rolled the down windows to take in the warm Florida air. I was also enjoying the fact that I was one step closer to my goal.
To add a picture to this, I suppose it would be best to describe the obvious. I am heavily tattooed, up and down both of my arms, both ribs, with a full back tattoo.
I wore a pair of sunglasses at the time. My hair was spiked on top and faded on the sides. I was fresh from New York with the apparent accent and grateful to be in the sun during the colder months. I wore a pair of shorts and a black tank top with a New York Hardcore insignia on it.
I pulled away in my “Butch Mobile” as I called it and drove only a short way before I was made fun of. I was picked on by two silver foxes in a souped up mustang.
They pulled up beside me at a red light. The two older women were looking at me, smiling, and noticing me in my little wimpy form of a car.
One of women asked if I was taking a joy ride in my Grandmother’s car.
I replied, “Na man. I’m a huge fiat fan,” which was obviously a lie.
Then I asked, “Why, does this car make me look too butch?” and the two older women sped away with the rev of the mustang to drown me in their wake.
I drove from Port St. Lucie to Pompano in that car. I made it in half the time I was told I’d make it.
I made it back equally as quick as I recall; only this time, I had to go back to Vero Beach. This trip was to settle some business back at the old cottage, which was literally left as it was.
There were so many things I needed to take back. There was years of collectibles and keepsakes. The problem was only so much would fit in my suitcase.
I saw all the newspaper clippings and the coupons and the phone books and scrap paper with notes on them. I saw all the magazines and the home shopping network ideas. There were the pictures of Selena, the little dog, and photographs of the family— not to mention all the medication I had to get rid of, which was also tough to see.
I would go down a few times after to the place in Pompano. I stayed in Ft. Lauderdale on the beach, which was a good place for me to be.
This was a good way for me to alleviate the stress from the moment. I walked the beach and talked to some of the town folks.
I had breakfast on the curbside restaurants a few times—I faced the beach and ate steak and eggs and huevos rancheros and coffee.
I suppose I knew the last time I was there would be the last time I was there. I suppose I knew it wouldn’t be long. And it wasn’t.
You passed unexpectedly, but yet, I expected it at the same time.
I say I expected it but this doesn’t mean I was prepared. Hard to believe this was five years ago. It will be five years this June 10th.
How could this be?
The hardest part is the energy. What I mean is I know you’re out there, somewhere. I can’t see you. I can only hear you, which means I have to listen very differently now. I have to be grateful for the memories of the place on Lindell or the little Fiat. Even in the tough times, there was something to help with a smile. You knew this too because you always pointed it out.
I was thinking about the little stream behind the complex on Lindell. I was thinking about the peacock bass and walking back to your apartment after fishing for a while. It’d be nice to have a day like that again.
There’s a little pond up the street from me. The weather is not warm enough yet but it will be soon (at least, I hope so).
The fish aren’t as pretty but fortunately, I can close my eyes and pretend. I can think about the feeling of the sun on my skin and the sound of the wind moving through the palms trees and you, smiling when I came in to say to me, “Hello, son.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is I miss you, Mom.
Just wanted you to know that