I spent Labor Day weekend in Florida visiting family. This involved four days of travel, three nights alone in a hotel room, time that tends to bring about deep thoughts. I spent a morning retracing my steps on Orlando and Winter Park, a slow drive down unfamiliar memory lanes.
I remarked to my brother in-law (b-i-l) that I am able to write some people off, to close them out of my life. I named a couple of family members that I don't care if I see again. One is a nasty moody son-of-a-bitch - who is always angry if he does not get his way. Two are drug addled and spend far too much time with people I don't trust. I remarked that I won't be surprised to hear that they are arrested, my b-i-l added or dead. And yes, I would not be surprised to hear they are dead. They are adults, adults knowingly making bad choices. Still the b-i-l was surprised by my remark about writing people off.
I visited the site of the Pulse night club, scene of the terrible massacre just three month ago. It was a pilgrimage visit. I had never been there, that club opened after I moved from Orlando. If it had been open 25 years ago, I probably would have visited it, it was the kind of place I enjoyed. I did drive by the Cactus club on North Mills - it is still there, though I think under a new name. That is where J gave me his business card, and the next day I called him back. And Southern Nights, down on Bumby. I thought it had closed, but it is apparently still in business, it was hosting an LGBT wedding show when I went by. I had some fun nights there in my single days. I felt it was important to retrace the places I had enjoyed the club scene to put in perspective the scene at Pulse, young people out enjoying life and being comfortable being who they are - just as we did in other venues 25 years ago.
It is difficult to put into words the horrors of Pulse - the random nature and the ugliness of it. From the memorials on the fence and sidewalk it is clear that the scars are deep and still fresh. As I was walking back the rental car I caught a foot on a bump in the sidewalk and a guy said, "are you doing okay," and I answered "Yes, I am okay," he said, "you are the only one." I am doing okay, I think it is acceptable for me to be okay, and it is acceptable for him to not be okay, we are what we are. I am disturbed by the act of hate, but, I choose not to let it rule me. Orlando will never be the same, I accept that.
I was living in Orlando the first time it lost it's small town innocence. About 35 years ago, an unstable man, upset over a traffic ticket, shot up the Court House, killing a couple of people and leaving a couple of Court personnel to die slow deaths, one over a period of 20 years. Orlando was never the same, open doors were closed, security was tightened, the small town I had moved to was forever gone. And continues to go farther and farther away. Florida did executions at 6:00 AM, about the time the gym I attended opened, about the time I reached the weight pit, they would announce the execution on the radio, I remember the morning the announced the guy who shot up the Court House was dead, it was one of only two times I thought, the state did a good thing today (the other was Ted Bundy.)
What can I say about my parents, they are both in very bad shape. Since my last visit two months ago, dad has slipped more than mom, in fact she was surprisingly talkative - even if little of what she said makes sense. Hospice care seems to be agreeing with her. Dad has a laundry list of fatal things wrong with him, treating any one of the illness would kill him. He and his doctors have agreed that the best thing he can do is enjoy each day as if it were his last.
I have an exercise for my fellow bloggers, draft the blog posting of your obituary. What do you want the world to read about you, when you are gone. I am working on postings for mom and dad, it is an interesting process, I will need the postings someday - at a time when I will least feel like writing them.