So I’ve been living in Florida now for 5-7 years, I can’t keep it straight, it was off and on, you know, winters here, summers in NY, one condo then another, sharing a house with my sister, blah blah blah. We NY transfers talk alot about how transient the neighborhoods are here in Florida versus NY- most of our family and friends live in NY and will stay in NY their entire lives. Moving away means moving from Queens to Long Island, or maybe upstate, God Forbid. We may end up back there one day ourselves, the thought is always in the back of your mind, maybe I’ll go back. When the day comes lay me to rest at O’Connors on Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway, thank you very much.
Moving to another state is fun in some ways, you get to make a fresh start, wow, housing is so much cheaper, the beach is beautiful, there’s a pool in my neighborhood, it’s like a resort. Who needs to get run over in the BJ’s parking lot in Brooklyn, or not be allowed to take your shopping cart to the car with your groceries, for crying out loud! And oh the stores, wow, so clean, the staff so polite- God forbid you try and pack your own bag, the manager comes running over to do it in his suit and tie- at my old grocery store in NY you’d stand there a looooong time if you wait for the cashier to do it. And they will take it out to your car and unload it for you- no tipping allowed. I have yet to let them do this for me, I just can’t- these guys are mostly seniors, I think being out in the heat is going to send them to the hospital. They give balloons to the kids, there’s a free cookie club at the bakery, and if you go at the right time of day you can almost make a meal of the free samples. Did I mention the white sand beaches and crystal blue water with no coney island whitefish?
It’s harder to make friends when you’re older though, especially when you don’t have a local job and your kid is not in school yet. Most of my friends here I met walking my dog in the neighborhood, and I am lucky enough to have my parents, sister and brother with their families all living nearby. It’s not the same as ALL of my Aunts, Uncles, cousins and kids, plus friends who have known me since birth, but we manage ok and still go up in the summer for loooooong visits.
So I’ve been living in a community of about 300 townhouse/condos in Sarasota, newly built in the 2004-2006 timeframe for the last 5 years. Our townhouse was new when I moved in- I picked the tile, the light fixtures, the carpet, the toilet bowls, all of it. What a luxury, another thing almost unheard of where I came from, where you were lucky if your house was less than 50 years old. They do tend to look alike though, I remember when I first came to stay at my sister’s new house, I thought thank God it’s Christmas and she has Frosty on the lawn, or I’d never figure out which house is hers, even after I had been there for a month.
I digress. Moving trucks are common here, especially as there are alot of rentals, snowbirds, the effect of the economy, etc. I’ve been lucky though to find a few friends though to really call where I live a neighborhood- we look out for each other, I invite them to Carlito’s occasions (christening, birthdays, an occasional get together), we take care of each other’s pets and plants, meet at the pool, etc. Most of my friends here I met before Carlitos came into my life- some of them watched me take the dog to the mailbox, waiting for some news, an updated form, or sending something out to be triple notarized and authenticated. A few of them wrote letters of reference for me, waited for my monthly update pictures of him once he was born, and alerted me to any news they heard about Guatemala, or adoptions in general. They threw us a shower, and took care of the house while my Mom and I went to pick him up. My friend Laura, even though she isn’t a cook, even made me some homemade soup and had milk, flowers, presents and even a Halloween pumpkin waiting for us when we got home.
Laura is moving from Parkridge next week, after 5 years here, living across the street from me. When I walk out my front door I see hers, and we often walked our dogs together, Belle sniffing for any random snacks, and Simon specifically on the lookout for gum. We had a little get together to wish her farewell at my house last night, some of the neighbors, so I decided to put together an album of pictures I had taken over the years. That’s when it struck me that she’s been a really good friend, not only to me but to Carlitos also- a part of our family.
Laura and I are both single, and we came to count on each other as the person you called when you got home from work, to say how your day was, to ask advice about how to handle a situation. Many a night she came over and watched me give Carlitos a bath in the sink while she had a drink and told me about her day.
She helped me hang curtains, she fixed my sink (even if the faucet is now on backwards), she played with Carlitos while I took down the Christmas decorations. I cooked her dinner, walked her dog when she had late school nights, and helped her fine tune her resume. Carlitos calls her Aunt Lola or Lauwa across the street, and has already started crying that she’s moving.
Change is good, and the changes she’s making will hopefully catapult her into the next phase of the life she’s meant to live- I’m glad we got to know her, and hope she comes to visit as often as she can.