I like walking in the street. In the middle and unabashed. Left foot stepping on the striped dividing line; sometimes yellow other times white. Then the right foot. An action to show that I’m wild or going against the grain or not paying attention. A bit of defiance. To publicly show that I think differently. That I am different. To have people follow my lead. They respect me and are curious and while they don’t say anything within them they carry an appreciation of my showing them that they too can walk in the street and be one of the first so others can see them and have others follow their lead until it is those who do not walk in the street that are the few. See this, see me, look at my flexed calves and my funny Birkenstocks. This street; I walk on it. The entire length of it is mine. And I will return one year from today to claim this street again. Remember me.
On the Fourth of July I do walk on the street and over a bridge. Fireworks are lit at 9:05PM. Arriving with an hour until then means parking about a mile away and walking to the beach. East bound traffic is closed.
Some groups of people, it becomes obvious, have been at the beach all day. The crowd thickened the closer to the water so we claim our spot behind the volleyball court while a few clearly non-volleyball players have fun with an grapefruit like under-inflated ball.
More people arrive and claim their viewing places around us including directly in front. The first pop and burst of gun powder like clockwork. The night turned into a masquerade. Shadows moving and exposed by the light – red, green, white, blue, purple. The oil on the skin reflected. At first I noticed the long full hair. Then I noticed the wonderful breasts with the assistance of the helpful light. Plush. As she crossed from the right out in front of me another crackle and burst touched the thin layer of oil on both rear checks; a full reveal. Suddenly the shadow was no more a shadow but blended into the night. I titled my neck to return my sights to the pier and then to the sky.
The fireworks were 3-D. Either the fireworks were so powerful or we were so close to them that each bang and pop and burst rained little paper pieces of the fireworks. The debris landed on in my hair, shirt, and legs.
The mile walk back was more crowded than the same walk an hour before. Reached the car at 10:00pm exactly and had driven well away from the crowd easily without traffic by 10:11pm. Away from the sand, smoke, debris, and skin.
Open space and grass and heavy speaking drawl and trucks and jeeps. This is the Florida country. Every visit welcomes me just a little more.
There’s a likeness that bleeds from the nicer neighborhoods covering the lesser ones like a blanket making everything and all areas look nice. One balances the other.
On the fourth visit I arrive at the determination that Jacksonville like all cities or towns has a nicer and lesser areas. This is a step up from my original thought that this it was all just a large back swamp country brush lacking culture. A visit to the Cummer Art Museum and Gardens helped change my perception. And when I say ‘nicer neighborhood’ I really mean the Riverside neighborhood in which the museum resides with grand porches of late 20th century homes and willow trees bordering St. John’s River. A very quiet and southern feel.
And with this feeling of casting off city life do I wonder if life can be equally enjoyable in the country. Trade urbanism for nature, subway for motorway.
What kind of legacy do you create?
What kind of friends do you have?
What kind of family do you build?
What career do you toil at?
These visits to see my sister have been pattern forming; same activities followed by same thoughts of what is she doing here. There is little to say. Spend the time driving from store to store buying her things; groceries, cosmetics, blankets, just whatever comes to mind. In exchange for my troubles I’m allowed a visit to a museum to wander unsupervised.
Five hours north of South Florida is a mud puddle called Jacksonville. An decent one. I’m being harsh. Deep appreciation of well maintained highways sets between the very edges of Indian River county upwards to Jacksonville. Makes you kinda proud. Tall trees along both sides north and south bound lanes. Roads free of junk and clear lane demarcations. Simple functional rest stations. And this being Florida the drive is largely a straight line with the occasional curve and mole hill.
I suck for posting this two months late. It’ll happen again. It’s habitual.
Getting around Jacksonville was super convenient. Slightly exaggerating there is one traffic light every two miles. At least this was the experience shuttling from Southside to Orange Park. Here’s an overly generalized observation: Orange Park is working class perhaps a little slummy while Southside is new construction, shoppes, manicured.
Taking in the northern coast beach and MOCA where my only humble goals of this trip.
Soft white powered sand characterizes the beach. The sand is as hard as a flat surface; hard enough that many early birds ride their bicycles on the beach. So don’t expect to sand castles and getting buried in sand. That is clearly out of the question. Plus there is nearly a football field sized distance between the edge of civilization and the ocean. This open space is the beach. The sunrise was nice and plenty of tourists and locals woke early to be rejuvenated and inspired by it.
Downtown Jacksonville was a let down. Maybe ’cause it was Saturday and downtowns in small mud cities usually empty on weekends. Regardless, downtown seemed a little blighted. Next to MOCA Jacksonville on the same block same attached building is the public library. Across a public center with circular fountain sans green space. Its relatively small. First impression driving on the street separating museum from the public center was the commotion at the library so much so that I initially thought the library was the museum. ‘An active art crowd. Great!’ I thought. It wasn’t the museum. Homeless locals hang out at the library and public center. Well, yeah.
Three of the five floors are exhibition space. The boutique cafe inside was closed. The front desk was very nice. She explained everything and genuinely welcomed me. Head down doing something as I entered she raised with a smile.
Quiet and lonely. Aside from security there was just one other museum patron. Eyes glance down, Mona Lisa frown. While I really enjoy art and museums I can’t say that I can intelligently critique art. My observations are of level of effort and thought the artist takes in creating their art. An appreciation and interest in their time and effort and skill. Hardly do I search for the concept or attempt to calculate their inspiration. In the permanent collection of MOCA Jacksonville are a series of Richard Anuszkiewicz paintings on second floor display. This was the highlight of the visit. That and the cute refreshing girl in the gift shop. Do Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube Richard Anuszkiewicz and then you too can name drop Op art.