Destination: Lake Worth, Florida, May 15 – 30th, 2012

Lake Worth, Florida, Mona Rain, Artful Dreamers Studio,

Thirty hours of transit time, three airports, and two 50-lb suitcases later, I am now safely home in Wainui, catching up on some sleep and pondering my last two weeks in the U.S.

The main purpose of our trip was to celebrate my parent’s, Hugo & Carmella’s, 50th wedding anniversary.

A quick stop in San Francisco, followed by a few days in Vegas with the Scanlon clan, brought us to Florida, along with my sister and her family, for a week-long family get together and anniversary celebration with family and friends.

It was lovely to be in warm weather with daily temperatures hovering in the mid-80’s.  Daily excursions included trips to the community pool, the nearby beach, and the local zoo which was made all the more enjoyable with my 2 ½ year-old niece who squealed in delight at the swimming pool floats, the ocean’s lapping waves,  and the zoo’s screeching howler monkeys.    She’s a natural beauty, a charmer, and her aunties favorite and only niece!

In between the outings, Joy & I made the final preparations for the celebratory day as we were throwing a party at a local Greek restaurant for 30 of our parent’s friends.   We went to morning mass where my parents renewed their vows in front of the congregation and as we stood behind – it was super charming.   Later in the day we convened at the restaurant and enjoyed several hours of fun with their friends.   It was a really lovely day.

Joy, David, & Sienna and Bruce left after a week and I stayed on for another to help the folks out with a variety of tasks:   cleaning out closets, going through old photos, purging unneeded items, going to doctors appointments, handling legal matters, and whatever else came up that needed doing, and managing to get in a little bike riding, swimming, or yoga on most days too.

I also had the wonderful opportunity on several occasions to visit with some very old friends from my New York days.

My very best childhood friend and neighbor, D.B., now lives in Florida with her family about an hour away from my folks.   Her parents are also in the area and so we invited all of them over for dinner one night.   She and I also got together by ourselves which allowed for a good catch up.   I knew her from aged two and we were thick as thieves all through school and into our early 20’s.   She shares in all my coming of age stories:  first loves, second loves, and then some,  wild partying days,  first jobs, summer holidays, camping trips, and so much more.  We shared dreams, we shared vices, we had a lot of fun together.    Then we lost touch as I moved out West and we went our separate ways.   Over the last 10 years, we’ve been in touch sporadically via email, so it was really nice to see her and to know that I’ll get to see her more often on my future visits.

Next, by the good graces of Facebook, where I mentioned I was in Florida, another childhood friend messaged me to say she was coming to Florida for the weekend and just happened to be staying only 15 miles from my parents house.     She is sisters-in-law with another friend of mine from my early work years – these two women, whom I knew independently in New York, married brothers and both families were coming to Florida for the Memorial Day holiday.   So I went and saw them for a few hours and enjoyed catching up on 20 years of life.

Florida –  with 20 million people, is the 4th most populated and 8th densest State in the United States.  It’s a peculiar place and I experienced both positive and negative feelings while there.  Dualities.

On the downside,  I was disappointed to learn that there was no green-waste compost recycling in Palm beach County (lawn waste – yes; food waste – no).   Half the garbage we produced (and we produced mounds of it in my two-week stay) was of food waste – waste that combined with other green debris could be used to make amazing compost for the less-than-desirable-sandy-soil that makes up Florida’s land mass.   Why are municipalities not investing in doing something that seems so simple?   (On my next trip there, I’ll be phoning up the county’s solid waste authority to find out!)

Even worse,  in the gigantic gated-communities which are everywhere – the ‘new’ Florida’ – where folks are supposed to feel safe and free – no one is allowed to have clotheslines in their yards where the sun (Florida is the Sunshine State after all) could easily dry their clothes in a matter of minutes  (Subsequent google research revealed that this is a world-wide phenomenon and I found a website dedicated to having the ‘right to dry’)    Also, one is not allowed to have vegetable gardens in the gated communities either – truly appalling.   I don’t know if it’s explicitly not allowed or whether folks just prefer to buy cheap produce, but in all the biking I did through the many communities, I saw nary a vegetable garden or a fruit tree.    And for all the benefits the gated communities tout – folks still seemed to have an underlying sense of fear – the need to lock up, shut windows, close garages, turn on alarms – all while actually being at home – was stifling to me.   And just who are they afraid of?  The immigrant workers who are toiling in the hot sun, mowing lawns and cleaning debris from the pristine and perfect landscape.

Despite my lambast, I quite enjoyed myself which was surprising, as in the past, I’d always been eager to get away from the geriatric State where at every turn you hear a New York-Tri-State accent!  But I’ve changed and times have changed.  I really enjoyed the warm weather (and was not looking forward to my return to New Zealand winter) which allowed me to swim and bike daily.    I was happy to see a bit more awareness of organic foods.   Whole Foods is now in the area and the local Publix supermarket chains have a decent organic produce section.    Upon perusal of the local alternative Whole Foods magazine, I was happy to see that there is an abundant of new age activities flourishing and I had a lovely massage and energy work done by a shamanic sacral cranial healer who I just loved.    I found an awesome intuitive painting studio and next time I’m there, I’ll definitely drop in and get my art on.

I enjoyed spending time with my folks and am grateful that they’re both still healthy and mobile.   My mom is an awesome cook and she made a lot of yummy meals.  Her Italian meat sauce (gravy) is so delicious.

So thanks mom and dad!   Can’t wait to see you again.