They say this place sucks you in.
Draws you back.
And it does.
It breathes you in.
You breathe it in.
Until it becomes a part of you.
You become a part of it.
Visions of Royal Palm Tree lined streets haunt you.
You fight it when you are young.
I came from mosh pits and smoky holes with loud shows and coffee.
And Mickey Mouse.
I came to this place.
With its peaceful-looking river, its beaches, its parks.
It seemed so small.
Sure. I could leave and never look back.
Now I look back on those fleeting moments with a crooked smile.
Being a teenager in Ft. Myers meant riding the Lee Tran to the beach when I should have been in school.
It meant Nightswimming.
And petting starfish.
And turning circles in the sand until I fell to that warm, soft, comforting earth.
It meant playing in Wal-Mart and wandering Bell Tower until we were kicked out.
It meant late night coffee at Perkins or Jerry’s, until the sun rose and we were ushered out by the older, more responsible crowd.
It meant Centennial Park.
Flying my kite on the now vanished map.
“Look! I’m standing on my house!”
It meant tip-toeing across the rocks under the bridge to sit under the cars/over the river, for no particular reason at all.
It meant climbing over the fountain to put lipstick on a statue of Edison and steel his friends’ firewood.
It meant falling in love on a swing. . .
With a friend.
With a lover.
My children like it here.
It’s certainly nicer than the only other home they have known, Detroit.
And I can share something of the child I was with them.
A Royal Palm Tree lined street.
Climbing a statue or two.
I certainly wouldn’t trade them for the snow.
Yes, this place sucks you in.
It traps you.
But from here, you can go anywhere.
Then you can always come home.