January 19, 2009

Coming to Connecticut

Lucy: I met each of the girls at pretty much the same time, when I moved to South Haven, Connecticut from Ft. Myers, Florida last summer, right before starting 8th grade. I came to South Haven with my mom and my two labs - Samantha the hyper black one, and Rufus the "mellow yellow." It was just us four in our two-bedroom apartment because my parents had gotten divorced that spring.

The divorce was kind of expected, as much as things like that are ever really expected, because my dad had been living at his own apartment for about a year. Dad said it was so that he could be closer to work - he's a ranger at Everglades National Park - but I knew it was because he and mom had spent months and months floating by each other without saying a word. It was almost like they turned themselves to ghosts when my older brother Billy died ... But that's another story for some other time.

In Ft. Myers, we lived in this tiny white bungalow house that had four rooms – two bedrooms, a kitchen and a den – a closet-sized bathroom and a rickety front porch that was crowded with potted plants and outdoor sports equipment like surfboards, kayaks, mountain bikes and rollerblades. Strings of white lights in the shape of stars made a spider web on the porch’s overhang, and a walkway of broken white shells led from the cement steps to the metal front gate.

“It’s like living in our own life-size gingerbread house,” Mom would joke.

The house was small and cozy, and I loved it. On Sundays when I was little, Dad would take me on walks through the sand dunes and let quarters drop at his feet for me to find. “Looks like a pirate left us a trail to his booty,” he would say, a crooked grin on his face.

Mom would bring me to the used bookstore around the corner and let me pick out novels that she called “pre-loved.” I could ride my bike to school and to the beach, and one of my best friends since I was two years old, Brandon Bennett, lived right next door.

I get sad thinking about Ft. Myers, especially when I think about the day Mom told me we were moving to Connecticut. "A fresh start!" she exclaimed excitedly, flipping through this big Nutmeg State Tourism Guide as I sat in disbelief in my pajamas at the kitchen table. I just remember seeing all these unfamiliar pictures of covered bridges, lighthouses and, most disturbingly, snow, and I knew my life would never be the same.

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