Flashbacks of backseats and Florida sunburns
There must be something in the orange juice.I’m back in Florida for the week on business, and the taste of fresh-squeezed juice has me feeling nostalgic about my favorite place to visit as a kid.My family and I spent practically every summer driving down here for vacation. Our most memorable trip was when my dad won $10,000 in a bowling tournament and we went to Disney World for Christmas.Eat your heart out, Phil Simms.And there was that one vacation when my parents thought it would be a good idea to drive down to the Keys from Indiana. Holy claustrophobia. Twenty million hours in a sedan can take a family of four to the brink of insanity.Add a Paul Williams 8-track and a whiny, car-sick April and a person could literally lose his or her mind.My brother and I would always fight no shock there because he would hog the backseat and kick me onto the floorboard. That only made me stronger and able to sleep anywhere.That’s not something a brother wants to hear.We’d most often come to Long Boat Key, a quiet place where I’d play in the pool and my dad would get 12-degree sunburns floating on his favorite red-and-blue raft.His red hair and freckles attracted the sun’s harmful rays like a high school girl to a wine cooler.There’s one particular photograph I keep on my dresser that reminds me of those old times. I’m perched on a mound of giant rocks, wearing rainbow-soled flip flops and a green-tinted plastic visor that declares I’m a tourist in capitol letters.My mom, in her 30s at the time, sits next to me in a powder blue shirt. Her arm clings to my curveless waist. She has this look on her face that wonders aloud how much aloe it will take for my dad to sleep comfortably that night.She would later learn there’s not enough aloe in the world. …I’m probably thinking about which terry cloth jumper I’ll be wearing to dinner later.And how great it would be to be an only child.My brother and I took sibling rivalry to a whole new level.That photo is a reminder of days gone by, when new development hadn’t hogged up all the available beachside property in Florida. Unfortunately, the resort we used to visit no longer stands. I know that because a few years ago I revisited that spot to find million-dollar condominium construction going on all around it.No more wooden stairs leading down to the beach.No more shuffleboard under the palm trees.No more in-ground pool where I almost drowned.OK, we’ll just forget about that one.Now, there’s just a bunch of high-rise buildings taking over the landscape. I miss those days when all that mattered is where to find a good place for grouper and a cheap bottle of aloe. I also miss those days when my parents paid for my vacation.Maybe I should take my dad bowling.April E. Clark is enjoying the Florida sunsets, and fresh orange juice, while they last. She can be reached at 945-8515, ext. 16601.
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