Wednesday, July 05, 2006

4th of July

"So what did you do for the 4th of July?" is the conversation starter every 5th of July. The fourth started fairly normal for someone who is busy trying to get an impossible pile of paper clutter down to size. I went through what seemed to be an interminable amount of papers, crammed for years into 3 to 4 professional storage boxes. In these boxes I discovered several things, including a very old wedding album of a very much difunct relationship, some meaningful school supplies, and too many bank statements. I also found two very special things; one vignette of making pasteles at Titi Sarita's house and several photos of very beloved relatives including Edwin, my brother, who passed away almost 11 years ago, and some pictures of Tio Angel Luis and Titi Sarita, that go along perfectly with the vignette on pasteles.

After concluding the sorting I went on to more pleasant things. I had called a friend and we decided that we would go to Daytona for dinner and swing by the Old Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. I need to stop here and clarify, that the Ponce indeed is forJuan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish conquistador and explorer, but they say Ponsss, instead of Ponsay, as we do in Spanish. I know Ponce de Leon must be sore from turning in his grave each time they say his name here. Anyway, dinner was delicious as always at Down the Hatch, though now a bit more expensive after five. We did get a nice booth with an excellent view of the intercoastal waterway which featured numerous boats going in and out to sea, and even a little red tug boat slicing big waves into the channel with prominent white letters to the effect wetowus.com towing in a relieved filled family boat back to the dock. On the hand, others were heading out to open waters to enjoy more of the summer fun. Then four lazy gray pelicans flew by in as perfect a formation as the Blue Angels with the backdrop of a typical summer day in Florida filled with large voluminuous cumulus clouds with an occassional rain shower in the distance. A perfect memory as I leave Central Florida.

I have grown to love this place more than I imagined I ever would. Funny, I saw it more as an exile though I never put that into words, and now, I, who had always been standoffish, love it. How could I love it? It has no hills, no real lush hills like Puerto Rico, just this flat sandy terrain with palmetto bugs, mosquitos, and brush, and these long barren trunks that point here and there. How could I love it? Instead it has these long reeds where the tangled mangroves need to be, and for the curvaceous palm trees stretching over the calm waters with their deep green and yellow fronds swaying in the Leewards while the tide evenly pounds on the shore, Central Florida has long gray flat straight stretches which they call beaches that go on for miles without a single palm tree. How could I love it?

Perhaps tonight was a good reason why. We went walking for exercise on the Daytona beach shore, and to our surprise, it was illuminated with throng after throng of fireworks enthusiasts celebrating the fourth of July. If you looked towards the north there was an endless burst of fireworks in deep reds, greens, and yellows reflected on the water and if you looked south the joy continued with gold leaf fireworks just south of the pier that lies off the Port Orange Causeway. Then there was the Beach Patrol out in full force trying to get the revelers not to do their fireworks. I presume to protect the turtles. The patrol drove up and down and visited each group of young people, while older folk leaned over there verandas and cheered in delight with each outstanding firework display. It was fun. All of us in the dark, with the ocassional piercing flashlight of the patrol searching out the culprits, while we all celebrated the independance of our country. I have never denied I am a Puerto Rican American. I accept it now. So yeah, I was celebrating the 4th of July, in a grand way, with all the other Americans on that beach of all different backgrounds and shades with the hope of bright moments to come in our future. All of us searching for the light and Jesus piercing the darkness for many of us.

That was my fourth of July. So what did you do on the fourth of July?