Queens, Vinyl, and the Vietnamese. Sounds Like Home.

The other day I was asked a question. A very simple question. “Where are you from?”

For a split moment of thought, I turned to them with a half cocked smile and said quietly, as if it were some revelation, “Orlando.”

Now, I know I have an awfully long history with Savannah. My family is rooted there, and on St. Simon’s Island. My family brood slips out of Southeast Georgia. But, there was something that occurred to me as I was about to answer that question about where I was from, that was more attune with where I felt I belonged, not necessarily where I was reared.

It is rare that you hear someone say they are from Orlando. It really is such a transitory place, that people are not inclined to say they are from here….because they all expect to leave at some point soon. This town is a springboard for greener grass in a better city somewhere else. “Not enough culture, bad transportation, it’s not New York, it’s not Chicago. I can’t wait to get to a REAL city.”

They may have their arguments. But there is something to be said about yearning for something more, and not realizing what you have at the moment. I’ve been in and out of Orlando for 20 years now. I first moved here from Berlin in the early 90’s, by way of a quick trip back to Savannah. And every time I left Orlando I was always drawn back. Peni used to call it the magnet beneath the city that clamps onto you and never lets you go. And I think there is reason for that. Though it may not be a large city (only 250,000 people at last count), its big enough to offer many things to do without being pressed by the price. And Orlando is filled with an amazing collection of neighborhoods. I mean, you can go to the botanical gardens the first Monday of every month for free. And they have “date night” once a month, where they play an old film in the gardens where you can bring your own food and beer. Or you can stroll Ivanhoe Row where nearly every shop is hinged on vintage. Clothes, furniture, vinyl records, all nestled against beautiful Lake Ivanhoe. You can hit the Peacock Room over in ViMi (Virginia Mills), and have a drink and explore the work of some up and coming artists in the city. You can stroll further down and find yourself in a sort of strange parallel universe where the shops cater to drag queens. Yes….size 15 pumps are readily on hand, as well as wild wigs and oversized dresses. Or closer to my apartment, you can forget that you’re even in the states, the shops and grocery stores all Asian ventured. Little Saigon. The weather is agreeable, the cost of living is low, and the crime is pretty low. I’m proud of this city. I like it here….right here, right now.

My point is, these neighborhoods all rely on a uniqueness that wasn’t planned, but happened naturally by people who didn’t care to find greener grass, but make their own little plot of the world just as impressive and enjoyable as any other. These neighborhoods were built on people happy with what they have….These neighborhoods were not abandoned for the hopes of better ones in far off lands. There is a sense of community. A closeness. For instance, I’ve been going to the same Publix here on Shine avenue since 2000….and the same cashiers work there. And they remember you…..

So, I’m knitting outside today because the weather is wonderful. The sky is blue. You can hear the birds in chirping uniform. You can smell the barbeque from over there, and the simmering scent of Pho over here. The azaleas are blooming in polka dotted pointillism wherever you squint. Its a beautiful place to be. Here. Now…..

Being here, being available in the moment of now…..is a beautiful place to be. Not clinched to whimsical wishes to be or go or find or seek or endeavor. To sit right here, exist right here in the place and moment you are, is a beautiful thing. Where you are now….is exactly where you are from. Because life moves forward into the future, from here, from now, from this moment….And so from now on, when asked where I’m from I’ll simply have to confess. “Orlando.” Because I like being here.

I have to share a picture with you. This bear was hand delivered. Not by me 🙂 The little bear was knit up, then sent to Wyoming to be given to someone else….and they wanted to make sure my bear was hand delivered safely to its recipient. I love pics like this!

Ok, back to my knitting….ya’ll have a good day!

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14 comments

  1. Awwww, that is the cutest photo I think I’ve seen today! Thanks for making us smile.

    And what a wonderful write up on the city of Orlando. Makes me want to visit!
    I, too, am from a city that so many people can’t seem to see anything good about. But there are many of us here who DO advocate and love it. There are ethnic restaurants galore, parks that are improving every year, a decent public transport system, tons of arts events (many free or low cost), plus we’re a gateway to wonderful outdoor areas for camping, hiking, boating, visiting vineyards and historic sites, etc.
    My husband says I’m a one woman chamber of commerce.

    Gina

  2. Wonderful photo! I was so excited to have my ‘Bear When You Need Me’ delivered yesterday! What a nice surprise. He is perfect in every way. Thank you so much! All the best to you.

  3. You are so right. Knowing you are a Christian I can say this to you, in the Bible the Lord tells us to live in the moment. He takes care of everything else. I have always tried to live in the moment. There are things I hope for and wish for but to be honestly content in what you have, what your situation is-is a hard thing to do. We would all be better off if we did. It touches the heart to see someone love your bears as much as you do. That is very special. Enjoy the sunshine and be happy!

  4. It’s nice to hear that Orlando has more to offer than Disney World! I can’t wait to retire (some 25-odd years from now) and travel to the WARM places. We’re still waiting for the snow to start melting in frigid Ontario. 🙂
    P.S. I sent you a message through your store. Did you get it?

  5. Very well said! I knew nothing about Orlando, but based on your post, would love to visit there. They are very fortunate to have you. BTW, so you think you might knit other animal than bears at some point? I’d like to recommend Scottish Fold cats and would be happy to forward a photo of Rufus, my Movie Star cat! LOL

  6. I spent a fun summer in Orlando about 40 years ago. I was a free-wheeling 17-year-old hippie wannabe, and that’s where we ended up staying with some guys we met on Daytona beach. I have some crazy stories about Hot-lando as we used to call it. I imagine it’s changed a bit in 40 years. I know I have. I’ve always wanted to go back and see if I could find where our apartment was…probably not. It’s most likely torn down and a Walgreens or parking lot. I was smoking a lot of pot back then, too, so….yeah, probably not. I was still imagining you in Key West or thereabouts. Nice to find out you are on my old, and very temporary, stomping grounds. Have a great day and live in the moment! 🙂

  7. I’m not sure what would draw me to Orlando. How would you “sell” it to a Canadian…about 120 km. south of the Canadian Rocky Mountains with turquoise glacial lakes?

  8. That bear photo is the cutest! How thoughtful! I love reading your blog. I always learn something new. I’ve never seen that side of Orlando, and now I can see why you call it home.

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