Back in the Day

Day 11 asks us to go back in time:


Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?


This prompt is amusing that it comes now, because I was just in my hometown, where I lived when I was 12. It’s a small South Florida town that’s not a city or the country but not a suburb, either, as it’s too far from a major city to be one. It’s just my hometown, the Sailfish Capital of the World.

I was born in a small town about 30 minutes north of West Palm Beach. I used to keep a map of Florida in my office, a bright yellow pin showing its location as I was so tired of having to explain. (If you’re from Florida, everyone always wants to know where, because they’ve been there on vacation or were stationed here or, somehow, have convinced themselves that they know perfectly well the geography of the state.) It’s a town that doubles in size during tourist season (roughly Thanksgiving to Easter), is populated by New York/New Jersey transplants plus good old boys and wannabes, and both revolves around and has nothing to do with the beach.

My parents still live in the house I lived in when I was twelve. It’s three bedrooms, two bathrooms, single story. The front lawn is more dead than alive, between poor soil quality and a family of burrowing moles. The back yard is mostly taken up by a swimming pool in a “gaming” layout, the ends three feet deep and the middle, five. Octagonal pavers keep the weeds from growing and railroad ties keep large bushes from falling into the pool. My room isn’t huge but I loved it growing up. There’s two windows that provide tons of sunlight. The street lamp outside my window provided just enough light to read by at night. My brother and I shared what we still call the kids bathroom, his bedroom located next to mine, off the open living room/dinning room/kitchen. The wall our doors on is covered in photos of us through the years, but stopping after we hit high school. More recent photos sit in nice frames on a table and small shelf nearby. Looking up in the large room, you see the spine of the roof and the tongue-and-groove boards that connect them. (It’s not nearly as loud as you’d expect during a rainstorm, with little between the boards you see and the open sky.)

The house has changed since I lived there. My room repainted pale  yellow with a sunflower border. The furniture I excitedly picked out in high school, replaced. The kitchen was redone in high school and carpet in the living room removed at the same time; those changes still feel brand new. But the pool is still out back. The driveway still shaped like a Y. A streetlight still shins in the windows of my bedroom. And, if I really focus, my twelve year-old self is still there, reading a book on the blue couch in the Florida room.

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