Sunday, March 26, 2023

In Another Country

It's sunny here and warm. The kind of warm that feels like a hug. My aunt hugs me when she picks me up from the airport. We get to talking before I finish sliding my roll-y suitcase into the back seat. My aunt is a talker. And if you know me in real life, you know that I am a talker too. When we get together, the talking is next level.

Before we hit the highway, we've covered the book I was reading on the plane, what's up with her friends in the condo community, how the little dog she's been dog-sitting is settling in, book banning (we're both against it), the weather (supposed to be hot this weekend in this part of Florida), and all the latest news on my kids--

with a dizzying digression into the past, as my aunt recalls funny stories, sad stories and everything in between about the kids when they were little, about the kids (me and my siblings) when I was little, about the kids (her and her siblings) when she was little, and weirdly, none of it feels in the past. 

My kids are five years old, and I am five years old, and she is, and all of it is happening, is always happening.

And then we are here, in her cute condo with her cute little foster dog, who is suspicious of me but decides to give me a chance. My aunt and I talk way past my usual bedtime. We talk in the morning after she wakes up, earlier than her usual waking-up-time. We talk over lunch. Over dinner. And up late again. And just when I think maybe we are talked out, she tells me a story,

which reminds me of a story, which reminds her of another one. It's been quite a few years since I've visited her, but when I slip outside (WHEW IT IS HOT!) to take a walk, I wonder if I will remember the layout of this neighborhood, the route to a pond where there's a walking trail and all of these condos looking very much the same. What if I get lost?  

But as soon as I set out, it comes back to me. A turn at this corner, a turn at the next. The pond with the signs warning me to beware of the alligator, which I have never seen (but sorta want to!) The palm frond designs etched into the sidewalk squares. A beautiful bird that I don't know the name of, but I snap a picture of it, and only later, remember that years ago, the last time I was here, I saw the same kind of bird and thought the same thing. 

Maybe it is the same bird. Maybe I am the same person. Maybe time stops in this place, and I am always taking pictures of those creepy and yet somehow adorable little lizards that scuttle across the path as I walk. Around the pond, the heat really starting to get to me now, and back to my aunt's condo, only overshooting it by a couple of condos. I have to double-back, where I find her

just setting out the little dog--and it really is so different from her last little dog, the one she loved for years--and yet, it is entirely the same. 


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