Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In Florida: Scattered Heart

Old Banyon tree and downtown St. Pete; orange hibiscus; St. Pete scenes; Sandie's apartment building, friends and neighbors, and Old North East neighborhood.

My dad is buried in Rochester, New York, my mom in Tallahassee, Florida These are the two poles of our family life. These are the two places that were “family homes” because our parents lived there. My brother has joined them, maybe in both places or maybe somewhere in between. I hope they are together.

I’m back in Florida now, a post-Peace Corps visit. It’s great to be back in this Land of Sunshine, on beautiful Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, in thriving downtown St. Petersburg, enjoying the new Dali museum on the waterfront, the old banyon trees, the boats in the harbor, the new shops and restaurants, the palms and radiant flowers, the heavenly gardenias, pure white, bold and fragrant.

It’s great to be sharing time with friends Sandie and Christopher, who helped publish Loren’s autobiography. Sandie and Christopher were good friends to Loren, welcomed him into their lives, adored him, loved discussing every topic with him, saw the goodness in him. I will never forget that. Nor will Loren.

It was a tough decision to move away from St. Petersburg. The decision grew slowly in my mind while serving in Ukraine. I wanted to be closer to my children and grandchildren, and that meant moving to Sylvania, Ohio. It’s a good decision, and my kids and grandkids are as thrilled about it as I am.

Today the movers came, very early, and got my furniture out of storage. It took 3 hours to get it all in the truck. A bunch of old stuff. It's on the way up to Sylvania, Ohio. I have said hello and goodbye to friends. My daughter Elissa is flying down to St. Pete tonight to help me drive up to Tallahassee (another 5 hour trip) to collect the stuff I left with my sister, along with my brother's old '99 red KIA. We're taking a road trip together, with a stop in Charlotte, NC to visit my mom's 95-year-old sister and cousins Roz and family.

And so, you see, my heart is in many different places, geographically scattered. I will miss St. Pete, like I miss Ukraine. I guess you could call it the blessings and challenges of modernity, and of change and adventure. Goodbye Florida, hello Ohio.

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