For those that don’t know me, I have a somewhat successful political blog and I am a contributor on several other political sites, but lately, I find myself wanting to write about other topics – broaden my horizons so to speak. Following politics twenty-four seven will drive you crazy. Lately I’ve been reading a few novels and other books to give myself a mental break.
I grew up Land O’ Lakes, Florida which is a small town on Florida’s Gulf coast. My family lived at the end of a dirt road and that road was the inspiration for this blog;20 Mile Level Road. Ironically, the road wasn’t twenty miles long and it was anything but level.
Our property was a great place to be a kid and find adventure. We had about twenty acres of land that was bordered by hundreds of acres of orange groves to the north and west, and a lake to the south and east.
There were only a few families that lived on our road and the closest one with other kids to play with lived about a half mile away. Oftentimes, I was left with two choices if I wanted someone to play with, use my imagination or play with my sister who is four years younger than me. No offense to my sister, I love her to death and we are very close, but she wasn’t a whole lot of fun to play with when I was a kid.
Like a lot of kids from Generation X, my parents were divorced. I won’t belabor that right now but suffice it to say, I carried around a lot of baggage for a lot of years. My wife might tell you that I still am but I have confronted a lot of those issues and I am doing my best not to pass along my emotional baggage to my own kids.
The house we grew up in was a step up from a shack, had no air-conditioning and the only running water came from a hose we ran from my grandmother’s house about a hundred yards away. I can assure you that growing up in Florida without air conditioning was less than enjoyable. We bathed at my grandmother’s house since the water pressure non-existent. If you’ve ever seen the Seinfeld episode where they replace the shower heads in Jerry’s building, then you have a little bit of an idea how bad it was. In fact, the showers we had in the middle of the desert after Desert Storm were infinitely better than what I grew up with.
I’m not complaining, it wasn’t until the last year or two that I thought about how rough it must have been for my sister. I could just walk outside and pick out any number of trees but she had to use the outhouse which wasn’t very pleasant. Fortunately my mom remarried and was able to finally able to fix the house up.
My friends loved coming over, it was like stepping into Lord of the Flies; you could do just about anything you wanted. I couldn’t tell you how many tree houses and forts that my friends and I built over the years. We hunted quail with pellet guns and knew all the good spots to fish on the lake.
Sometimes I wish my boys could have experienced some of what I did growing. They did get to visit my mom on summer break a couple of times before my mom sold the property but it wasn’t the same as it was when I was growing up. Tampa swallowed up my little town and the orange growers sold out to building developers. Now all the groves that I used to find adventure in had been converted to endless miles of subdivisions, golf courses and a park.
I guess that’s what they call progress.