Follow Me On
The Woman in White Marble

{Click Marble or visit Books in the main menu}

Dis-Ease: Living with Prostate Cancer

{Click or visit Books in the main menu}

« Chipping Away at Democracy | Main | Kindergarten Shooting Drills ~ Welcome to the United States of America »

Spanish Moss and a Man on a Pole ~ Confession of Melancholy 

The first foreign country I visited was Florida. I took the train down from New Jersey with my two sisters and my mother. I don’t remember anything about the train ride, but I do remember getting off the train and walking along the platform when we arrived. I was on my mother’s right, my older sister on her left, and my younger sister, only a baby, in my mother’s arms. Suddenly a man came up to us, spoke to my mother, and then took our suitcases. I remember being very bothered by this. It seemed somehow inappropriate, perhaps morally questionable. I wondered what my father would say. I was very young.

Now I can see the scene clearly. A young woman in her late twenties carrying a baby and suitcases, while trying not to lose contact with two other small children trailing behind. Some nice man gave her a much needed hand. So why did I, probably no older than five, feel uneasy? How could that unease settle in so early? Where did I learn it? From whom – my father or my mother? The TV? It certainly didn’t bode well for the future. Trust me when I say others figured out the relationship thing a lot sooner than I did.

Of course, Florida wasn’t a foreign country, but to me back then it seemed like one. We had headed down from New Jersey to spend our vacation with my mother’s sister and her family and stepping out of the train station into this strange Florida land might as well have been getting off a plane in Mozambique or Singapore. One of the first things I saw was Spanish moss hanging from a giant tree. I stopped and stared. I had never seen anything like it in my life. It was amazing. It was my first experience of the exotic, the foreign, and I liked it. That did bode well for the future. Though I was slow off the mark (is there a theme here?), I eventually did travel extensively, Mozambique and Singapore being familiar stops.

I have very few memories of this vacation in Florida. I would have spent time with my cousin Greg, two years older than me. Even in those very early years Greg was always more streetwise than I would ever be. I shot my first gun with Greg, a .22 rifle. I killed a frog, who had done nothing to offend or threaten me. While there was a certain thrill to shooting a frog, I was more wary of the rifle’s power then excited. This did bode well for the future (An Open Letter to American Gun Owners; Guns versus Spoons; Kindergarten Shooting Drills).

I do remember we went to a shopping area. These were the days before the great American shopping mall with the stores, shops, food courts, bathrooms, and chapel all  enclosed in a huge protecting structure surrounded by a million parking spaces came into being. So, was it one big store or several smaller stores collected together? Who knows. I remember is was very busy – lots of cars and people – and in the parking lot there was a very large high pole with a platform precariously fixed to the top. On the platform was a man. The man was living up there for a few months. People were pretty excited about it. My aunt Barbara made a point of taking me to the bottom of the pole so I could get a sense of its heights. She was clearly enjoying herself. I can still see her smile (a good aunt to me was Barbara). I was completely fascinated, and not a little confused. Why on earth would a man sit on a very high pool for months? I thought what strange people lived in this land called Florida. Still, I had never seen that at home, so very exciting.  

After the pole Barbara bought me a stuffed alligator about a foot long. Now that really was something. I assume it was actually a real stuffed baby alligator. It was a long time ago and if someone thought they could make money by killing baby alligators and selling them to young children there would have been nothing to stop them. I kept that poor thing for years, until the legs fell off and the stuffing came out.

I remember sitting outside watching a horror film with my cousins. How that could have been, I don’t know. Perhaps we were at a drive-in, or maybe the TV was on the patio. I don’t remember. I do remember that the movie scared the crap out of me. It didn’t bode well for the future. Horror movies still scare the crap out of me and I’m now in my third act. That night in Florida I couldn’t sleep and just laid in bed listening to the cacophony of insects outside my window.   

As with my entire life, I remember only the smallest fraction of that visit to Florida. I remember the man at the station, the Spanish moss, the man on the pole, the alligator, the movie, and the insect concert, but that’s it. All the rest is gone. I have no idea who that little boy was. He is a stranger to me, though the echo of his existence traverses the space and time between us.

Copyright © 2017 Dale Rominger

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>