I was born in Miami, Florida and lived there until I was almost 8. For this essay, I’m exploring those things I remember. Originally this was going to be structured as a timeline, however since there is no relevance today to anything then, except that I’m living in Florida again, this is an exercise into what I remember.

There was a coconut tree in the front yard. I didn’t like coconuts and neither home in the duplex cared to climb the tree. The color of the flat-roofed cement house was pink. the front yard was not fenced, but the backyard was with a swing set in the corner. We rented the house. At first, the owner’s family lived next door. I remember the family’s surname and the three kids’ names. When they moved, a Cuban family moved in. The parents didn’t speak English but the kids did fine.

Diana was the girl who was a year older than I. She helped teach me how to ride a bicycle when I was five. Alex was her brother. He and the brothers who lived on the other side of him would come over to my house to watch Batman because we were the first to have a color television. The house was very small. I am the oldest of four and as my mother kept having babies, the kids room got smaller. Our bedroom was accessible only by going through the parents’ bedroom. The kitchen was small with an electric oven, refrigerator and sink. There was also a door leading outside. The dining room was right outside of the kitchen and it was open to the living room that covered the whole front area of the house. And there was only one bathroom.

My sister who was born when I was three, would get fever convulsions. I remember the first time this happened. Everyone was dressed in their finest underwear. My father and I in briefs and t-shirts, my siblings in their undies too. We were eating dinner when my sister started acting up. I’d never seen a seizure before and it was scary. Before I knew it, my father sprang into action grabbing her and running to the car. We all ran along, the whole trip in a blur to the hospital. I don’t know what anyone thought, but I was old enough to know it was embarrassing. All of my sister’s convulsions after that were handled at home. She outgrew them eventually. My brother wasn’t born yet, but he’d get them too.

My fondest memory was playing on the ground in the backyard when I was attacked by fire ants. This time my mother, hearing my screams, ran into action, picked me up, ran into the bathroom and threw me in the bath tub, running the water. That is a pain I will always remember. The numerous stings are nothing I ever felt again. I stayed away from the backyard for a while after that. It was in the backyard where my mother would sit in a lawn chair with an iced coffee. Us kids were never exposed to coffee like everyone is today. My parents drank instant coffee, not a big deal to me still, but somehow it is sin to most people I know. I would drink sips of her iced coffee and after a while she would make some for me. This new cold-brew coffee kick is old hat to me.

During this time period in Miami, hurricanes blew through each summer. I remember the Shell gas stations would have maps for tracking storms and I had to have one. The hurricanes always came through at night. We never boarded up the windows; we had hurricane tape that somehow looked like plain masking tape to me. Every window had the X mark of the tape. I would go to bed and would wake up in the brunt of the storm. The power was always out for days. Back then, the power lines ended up on the ground and I wasn’t allowed outside. Sterno cans allowed for cooking during these times. These hurricanes and the snow I first witnessed up north made me want to study meteorology. Another topic for another time.

Other memories include the barber shop around the block, the local general stores up the street, and the old abandoned house that I once explored with my friend Mark before one day it caught fire and burned down. Mark and I once went around looking for glass bottles. There was a return fee and that day Mark and I made some money. Back then when the kids went outside, the whole area for several square miles became our play area. I had a banana-seat bike that took me everywhere when I was six and seven. No problem. Mark and I once hung out outside of a local church house after school. A safety patrol from the school. wanted to turn me into the school after letting Mark go. I cried my way out of it and it worked. To this day, we did no harm and I do not understand why we were wrong in just sitting outside of the church.

I went an Evangelistic kindergarten for four and five-year-olds. After that was Comstock Elementary school. There were no buses – we walked to school. I remember freezing on some mornings because I owned nothing heavier than a sweater. The school had built a big room, putting dividers in and separating the room into three classrooms. No windows, but there was air conditioning. A/C was a new concept to me. We had fans at home and in the car the windows could roll down. That was our A/C. I was dripping wet all of the time. Today, what would happen if the power grid went down? The weather isn’t getting warmer, the houses are getting colder!

I don’t miss these years but I wish that era was now. I grew up then to friendly people. It would be after I moved north when I would see the worst in people. I wasn’t sheltered so I would notice when kids or their parents were fighting. There’s a lot more I remember and may come back to this with another part. It is fun going back and remembering my childhood.