Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Go Home Again - Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, I started a story about the first few months of my married life, in a run down area of Tampa, Florida.  We lived on the 2nd floor of a two family rental, complete with an old fashioned bathtub.  The kitchen featured a spot in the floor we could not remove, where a palmetto bug had met an untimely end.  Eventually we could afford better quarters, and eventually moved from Tampa in 1976.

(For the entire post, which was originally a guest post on a blog written by author Billie Noakes, please visit her blog.)

30 years later, we returned and.....
Since the day we left in 1976, we had never been back to Florida.  We had a teenaged son.   We had never taken him to Disneyworld like normal parents did. We had never taken him to Sea World Orlando.  We didn’t on this trip either: we were there to show him Old Florida on what became our last vacation taken together.  We took the Auto Train down. We skipped Orlando.  We went to Daytona.  We went to Cocoa Beach. We took him to Silver Springs.  At last, we arrived in Tampa.

Now, enter Billie.

Billie is in a relationship with my cousin Barry.  Barry and Billie decided they were going to give us a tour of Tampa so we could see how it had changed in 30 years.  My son came along for the ride.

Barry and Billie drove us around Tampa. And finally, I asked Barry if he would take us back to that apartment in Hyde Park, where we had started our married life.

Of course he would.

We couldn’t believe it.  We went past what, when we lived there, was a small neighborhood mall – it was now something spanning several blocks called Hyde Park Village.  New construction was everywhere.  The “don’t go there” neighborhood was gone, razed, with condos going up on the site.  Our neighborhood had gone upscale.

The two family house we lived in was still there.  We didn’t recognize the street at all.  It looked really nice.

We parked in front of the house.  And I had to open my big mouth and say “Say, wouldn’t it be nice if we could see the apartment again?”

“Why not?” replied Billie.  She marched up the stairs and knocked on the door.

She came back down.  A young Hispanic man had answered her knock. And yes, we were more than welcome to come in and look around.

So we took our son up and showed him where we had started married life over 30 years before.  The young man proudly showed us around the apartment.  The kitchen had been totally renovated. The palmetto spot was gone.  As I recall, the young man owned the entire house.  He had done a lot of renovation and was rightly proud.  But one room hadn’t been changed yet:  the bathroom.

It looked just like it had over 30 years ago.  That bathtub was still there.

The young man offered us refreshments. At that point, my shyness asserted itself, we thanked him, and left.

Not too many people can “go home again”.  Tampa, and my cousin and significant other gave us that second chance.  I'm also thrilled that Billie visited my blog yesterday, and saw my post.

If I ever end up publishing a book, it will all because of her encouraging me to enter my first blog challenge.  So thank you again, Billie.

Have you every been able to "go home again"?

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