Saturday, October 23, 2010

We Are Here

Back story:
When I was a little girl I lived in a tiny village named Roseland, Florida. I ended up there when my mother fled my father who was a bad drunk who had a gun and was threatening to shoot her and my little brother and me. She brought us to Roseland where her mother and father had retired because she had nowhere else to go.

Roseland was Nowhereville, Florida. It was perched on the Sebastian River and there was jungle and wild mango and palm and cedar and rattlesnakes and even wild cat.
It was crazy beautiful.
And that's where I spent my years from age five to age twelve.
The very best things that ever happened to me and the very worst things that ever happened to me happened in Roseland.
And that's where I am right now.

Another bit of backstory:

Roseland was mostly a fishing village. Fishing, as in men who supported their families by going out on the Indian River and in the Atlantic Ocean and bringing in what they caught. They slept most of their days because they went out at night and when they got up in the late afternoon they mended their nets. It was a hard living and I went to school with their children and sometimes those kids were beat up by their old men or put out by their mamas if they got skunk-sprayed and I am talking about nine year olds. When I was growing up, if you were nine, you were old enough.

For many things.

My mother got a job teaching third grade at the local elementary school, mostly because she went to college. No one cared that her degree had nothing to do with education and no one cared that she was suffering from bad depression and probably PTSD. PTSD hadn't been discovered then. This is not to say that people didn't suffer from it. They did.
Also, no one talked to children to explain to them why they never would see their daddy again. Or why their mama cried all the time.

And all of this happened and yet, I was delivered here, to this spot on the east coast of Florida which was, as yet, still undiscovered, still unknown and it was magical. It was here that I learned the secret language of water. It was here that I learned to read. It was here that I learned to shelter in trees, to play marbles in dirt roads, to make hopscotch with chalk on the one paved road in town. It was here that we crossed the wooden bridge (ta-dump, ta-dump, ta-dump) over the Indian River to the Atlantic Ocean which was the place where I learned that there is so much more to life than I could even begin to imagine. It was here that I learned what hurricanes were and that trees could bend and bow to touch their foreheads to the earth under the driving wind and rain of the storm. That the ocean, when it was in the midst of the roiling of the hurricane-force winds could bring up creatures from the deep which glowed under the green moon to wriggle on the sand of the beach.

It was here that my friends and I went through the rusty iron gates to discover the ruins of an estate and a pool with four lions at the corners, overgrown and mysterious and which I dreamed of my entire life.

It was here, also, that I was first abused by the man whom my mother married who was my stepfather. He has been gone so long that I can barely see the outline of his ghostly presence, even though his evil still taints my blood. But not enough to taint my happiness at being here. He is nothing to me here. He is not here at all.

But I am, all these years later, here I am again and I am so happy to be here.
Staying in the little pool house which overlooks the cement rectangle which was that ruined pool, the lions still in place,

the pool patched and full of turquoise water, and the little house the most charming of places you can imagine.

The river lies right down the yard and there is a dock, and the dirt road I walked and rode my bicycle on as a little girl is right here, still made of white sand and believe me- it is as enchanted and enchanting as it ever was. There are islands and there is the Henry Flagler railroad trestle and the trains still pass over it and there is jungle and the sky still bruises itself with heavy clouds and the bamboo by the pool clacks in the wind and the white moon rises and lights up the sky over the river and here I am.

Fifty fucking years later and this little place on earth is almost, impossibly, the same.
I told you it was magic.
I wasn't kidding.

The little pool house has been restored and rejuvenated and redesigned and decorated and made lovely. The property has been cleared and planted and tamed and set wild in a gentle way.

The river flows on. The village looks incredibly the same while a half mile away, the area has mushroomed with Publix, Walmart, Radio Shack, ETC, ETC. but right here, the heron, the egret, the hawk, the mullet, the tarpon, the shacks, the water, the hibiscus, the palm, the pool...
are all right here.

And this is where Mr. Moon and I are for the week.

And I am so tired right now and need to go to bed in the bedroom in this little cabana house that I saw as a a child and thought, "What sort of place is THAT?" and nothing answered me but the No Trespassing Sign, the clanging iron gates, the abandoned lions guarding the huge pool, now bordered by bougainvillea, palm, and bamboo, tranquil as the moon.

Coffee in the morning by that pool.

See you then.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. How well you lead me in your story...wanting more, yet feeling I should not ask. I am mesmerized of your Florida like I am of all the south. So much there of a place so different from CA. I hope you both have a relaxing time and are well guarded by that lion.

  2. This is riveting. Sleep well under that bright moon, Ms. Moon.

  3. the pool and the lions...amazing, reminds me of...what? will remember.

    i felt the hugest sadness reading suddenly about your stepdad abusing you. i know he's not there with you but it was a hurt to read, to think of the little girl you were, so exposed already, confused, and then that. life really hurts sometimes.


  4. Mary, thanks for telling your story. I appreciate a lot of our similarities. My small town is still pretty much the same,although the county has a Wal-Mart and a bunch of strip malls. I would like to visit Roseland some time. It sounds really lovely.

  5. A scary and beautiful school, Mary. I'm glad you can go back, to a place that has been recognised and restored and re-beautified, so that more than just little kids can see its magic :)

  6. What a great job you do setting this scene for us! Love that you arrived on the full moon. I feel a Gatsby-esque tale bubbling below the surface of this scene. Told from the perspective of the poor neighbor girl instead of Gatsby's cousin Nick? Something to think about while you are relaxing in this great spot with Mr Moon.

    Have Fun!

  7. I am so glad this place is still magical and unchanged and makes you happy and nothing taints it.

    I wish the magical places of my childhood still existed so I could return for a visit.

    I am envious.


  8. you are phenomenal
    this was phenomenal

  9. Wow... It sounds so magical. So glad you can go back and the magic is still there for you.

  10. What an amazing place! You and Mr. Moon are going to have a wonderful week.

  11. You astound me, you know. Just going there like you are with Mr Moon, writing the way you just have, do you know how brave and amazing you are? To see this kind of healing in someone, this strength, to be able to go back there and feel safe and well, and to remember the good things, the childhood magic, to keep the self you are now present and in charge...
    Oh, those lions, I think they have been watching over you. I think they still are. Your writing is so poignant and beautiful and so are you Ms Moon. Enjoy your coffee by the pool. I'm having mine right now in the lazy boy. And was so glad to find you here (and there).
    Love you.

  12. Holy Damn.

    I'm just going to sit here quietly in the corner and I promise I won't bother you but I think this is one hell of a show we're watching on this channel.

    You are a hell of a thing, girl.

  13. that was magical indeed..told so well..deeper and deeper into this exotic ..still dark..corner of your past....its still there...

    everybody needs to be somehwere..and we are here....

  14. Powerful stuff, Ms. Moon.
    Powerful, and eloquent, and evocative, and beautiful - just like you.

  15. Ellen- You can ask anything you want. I will answer to my best ability.

    Elizabeth- We did! It was awesome sleep.

    Maggie May- And yet, we grow up and there is enough magic to make it all okay. Better than okay. Amazing.

    Syd- You would LOVE it. I know you would.

    Jo- It's just a stone-cold miracle to me.

    N2- By the time I got here in the early sixties, the Gatsby's were long gone. But here are their pool, their house, their trees. Isn't that odd? Isn't that wonderful?

    Michelle- Well, as we all know, I am the luckiest woman in the whole wide world.
    But yes, wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone had such magic?
    I sure wish you did, my loving sister-friend.

    deb- I find myself in phenomenal circumstances all the time. How? I do not know.

    Dianne- It never ceases to amaze me.

    Lois- I believe we will.

    Bethany- Those lions have been with me forever, I really do. In my dreams and in pictures and in reality. You may be right about their protective-totemness.

    Tearful- You're a hell of a thing too. And you never, ever disturb me.
    Not one bit. I like to think of you like the lions, there. Here.

    Danielle- Exactly- Dark and Light in equal measure, both coming together to create that enchantment, that memory, that mystery, that answer.

    Lisa- Thank-you, sweet woman. Thank-you.

  16. This is a beautiful, evocative view into your past and present, and the past and present of a Florida we remember in similar echoes, and in very distinct ones. I am grateful to have such a gifted writer in my circle, and in my heart.
    Love you.

  17. So beautiful, this. I am moved to meet the girl who survived to thrive in this place.

  18. That is some incredible writing and incredible photography. DAMN WOMAN!

    Love you,

  19. Those lions, guarding the pool, are fabulous. It sounds like a perfect holiday to me, Mary.

    I am SO GLAD the bad man is not there at all with you. I hate him.

    But I love you and Mr. Moon.

  20. This made me feel the atmosphere of a forest cabin we used to go to when I was little.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.