Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. As I write this, the temperature outside is 74˚F (24˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 69% and the wind blowing from the south-southeast at 7 MPH (12 KM/H), the feels-like temperature is 72˚F (22˚C). Today we can expect a warm spring day – the skies should be sunny and the high will be 85˚F (29˚C). Tonight, the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and the low is expected to be 55˚F (13˚C).
Today’s post will be brief. Partly because I woke up too early again and haven’t had (a) a substantial breakfast and (b) enough coffee in my system to super-energize me. As a result, I’m sleepy, hungry, and even a bit woozy. This is not a good way for anyone to be feeling, especially during a work-day, and even more especially when one is trying to write a halfway-decent screenplay for a feature-length film.
Second, I need to change my routine a little bit and not chain myself to this desk all day. I haven’t gone for a walk outside in months – literally. The last time I went to the park near here it was just after Christmas to try out the Han Solo jacket that my friends Juan and Adria gave me for the holidays. As of late, I’ve taken to staying in my room for most of my waking hours, only venturing out to eat in the kitchenette, take a shower/use the facilities, and – when the Caregiver and her new beau aren’t hogging the only cable-connected TV in the house – watch something on the big television out in the Florida room.
So, yeah, I need to go out and get some fresh air and sunshine while the weather is still relatively mild (by Florida standards). I am not, by nature, an outdoorsy-kind of fellow, but I’m beginning to feel like a prisoner here in someone else’s house rather than part of a family unit. I felt that way often in Miami from March 2010 till July 2015, too, except then I was in my house (de facto if not, in fact, de jure) and I was part of a family unit, albeit a dysfunctional, fractious one.
“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story
The last time that I felt this low and frustrated was when my mom was in her last weeks and everyone was coming to terms with the fact that, yes, this was definitely the end for her and that she wasn’t going to get better if she lived longer. Six years ago, I was only 52 and had not yet gone through the traumas of losing my mom, my house, and a cross-state move that I now regret making. But I was physically, emotionally, and mentally tired and feeling lost and defeated.
If memory serves, I had a habit of jokingly telling Margarita, our first home health aide from Nursing South, that I was going to “break out of prison” before going out for a 20-30 minute walk around East Wind Lake Village after Margarita arrived (usually at 4 PM) to watch over my mother so I could take some time out for myself. As I made my exit through the front door, I’d jokingly shout, “The prisoner is now leaving the premises!” and gleefully leave my townhouse behind to venture out into the neighborhood and out of the gloomy and confining bubble, at least temporarily.
At least back in East Wind Lake Village I had a core group of neighbors that I called “friends.” Some of them I’d known ever since Mom, my older half-sister, and I moved into our townhouse in February of 1978 or shortly after; others were folks I met in the 1990s and early 2000s when I took my Labrador retriever, Mary Joe Cacao, out for her walks around the condo. So when I went on my “freedom walks” during the five years that my mom lingered with her declining health, I had folks that I could at least talk to about the situation with my half-sister and my many challenges with my mother’s deteriorating condition.
Here, though, I haven’t made any friends beyond the family group that I am currently attached to here. None. And ever since I broke up with the Caregiver late last summer, that friendship is strained to the point that we barely speak to each other. So when I go out for walks in this neighborhood, it’s not like I can say, “Maybe I should drop in on Elena and Baldo and shoot the shit for a while.” Or now that I’m reluctantly single, I don’t even dare think “Hey, that woman walking with her dogs looks cute. I wonder if she’s single…’ When I go out to stretch my legs or read a book out on my favorite park bench, I limit my social interactions to a friendly wave and eye contact, then I move on.
Anyway, yeah. My worldview is horribly skewed right now. It doesn’t help matters that we are still in a global pandemic and that I’m homesick, missing my mom and my friends (both living and dead) and that I’m trying to write a screenplay in this environment.
On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia!
 My older half-sister Victoria (or Vicky) had moved out of our house in Westchester in 1974 for reasons that are too complicated to discuss in this footnote. Suffice it to say that it was not voluntary on her part, and when she heard that Mom was buying the new townhouse back in the summer of 1977, she begged and pleaded with Mom to let her come back into the family fold from which, in her mind, she had been banished. My mother was a bright and strong-willed woman, but she also felt a lot of pressure – mostly from my older half-sibling – to be an equanimous parent and live up to what I call Vicky’s “Walt Disney” ideals of what a family should look and act like. Forgetting, momentarily, the circumstances in which Vicky had left several years earlier, Mom agreed, even giving her the master bedroom upstairs (not far away from my bedroom) and resigning herself to take the small bedroom downstairs – the same room in which, 37 years later, she would die in at the age of 86.
This arrangement did not work out well. At all. I’ll write an entire blog post about this someday. For now, all you need to know is that one year after we moved in, Vicky was moving out. This time it was permanent.