I was perusing the Showtime section in the Sentinel and a little in-house promo caught for "Flowers in Bloom" caught my eye. That's the blog done by the newspaper's movie critic, Phoebe Flowers. So I went ahead and checked it out.
What follows is a recent post from Flowers, who I think is a decent critic. When I read it I couldn't help but think that such a thing being on the Sentinel site was inconceivable two years ago. Thought I'd share it with you for some leisurely Friday reading:
Tonight I had to drive way down to South Miami, and back again, for a screening. I shouldn't be permitted to drive even semi-long distances alone. I think too much. And what I was mostly thinking about in this particular instance was all the places in South Florida (and, for a time, beyond) I've lived over the past 10 years, and what person I was when I lived in each place. And so.
Names are withheld, in most cases, to protect the innocent (and the not-so-innocent).
April 1997-September 1997
Sunrise, Fla./Miami Beach, Fla.
Song: Moondance, Van Morrison
Movie: The English Patient
A Herald sports reporter decides to hike the Appalachian Trail for four months, and enlists me to watch her condo for her because she is unable rent it out. I wear my brother Charlie's Sergei Fedorov jersey, and the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 42 years. I fall in love, several times, but ultimately with an intern who moves in with
me for the summer; when the sports reporter returns, I live with the intern and his previously abandoned roommate in Miami Beach until they go back to school. I have the best intentions.
November 1997-June 1998
Song: Smack My Bitch Up, Prodigy
Movie: Boogie Nights
Despite the fact that we aren't technically together and obviously doomed, I follow the intern up north for his senior year at Harvard. I rent an apartment with two recent Boston College graduates, but spend at best one night a week there; the rest of the time, I take up residence in Winthrop House, eating in their dining hall, going to their formals, trying to eke out my own collegiate experience. It is the most painful, spirit-crushing period in my life to date. Things end badly, despite my best intentions. And yet, somehow, I begin friendships with two of the intern's classmates that deepen and endure to this day. (Their pictures and names appear frequently on this blog.) The intern is now married with a child, and a Pulitzer finalist. We do not speak.
August 1998-October 1998
Song: I Love You, The Dandy Warhols
Movie: There's Something About Mary
I take over the spare room in the apartment of my teenage best friend, Maria Fann, and her boyfriend, who very clearly does not want me there. Friction ensues. I fall in love with a man 12 years my senior. In the space of a few weeks, he files for divorce. He comes over with bottles of cheap red wine, which inevitably end up spilled on the carpet of my friend's guest room. The man makes me many mix tapes, because no one burned CDs then. I am enthralled and swept up and have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but I am entirely convinced that I do. I am 19 years old.
November 1998-February 2000
Miami Beach, Fla.
Song: Gorecki, Lamb
I move into an apartment I've never seen before, as it was chosen by my boyfriend. It's an old complex on Collins, and the building-wide central air conditioning means that whenever the elderly lady in the apartment above us lights up a cigarette, it permeates our unit. The kitchen is smaller than any closet I've had since. We have an ocean view from every room, though, and my boyfriend's daughter's preschool -- and, later, elementary school -- is just blocks away. I hand-make her Halloween costume for the first of several times. I will never again be in love in this precise way. I have the best intentions.
March 2000-December 2000
Overtown, Miami, Fla.
Song: Hey Hey What Can I Do, Led Zeppelin
Movie: Everything that I watch on the premium channels when I cannot sleep from approximately 3 a.m. to dawn, every single night. I think I identify far too much with, all of things, Forces of Nature.
We move onto the 20th floor of a gated high-rise with a gigantic balcony looking out over downtown Miami. There are homeless men defecating on the sidewalks in the streets around us, but we're a mile from work and have twice as much space and a big pool. I put pretty curtains up in his daughter's room -- we have joint custody of her; I handle a lot of negotiations with his lawyer -- with a coordinating quilt. I cut her bangs myself, like my mom did for me. I subscribe to parenting magazines, and become strict with bedtimes and nutrition and manners. I presumably drive everyone else insane with such preoccupations. (I have the best intentions.) On Sunday and Monday nights, I lay out her school uniform before bed; in the morning, I help her dress, brush her hair and fasten it with a barrette if it's not pony-tailed or braided. I make her breakfast and pack her lunch and often, because neither of us has to be at work as early as she has to be to first grade, my boyfriend and I drive her to school together. She sits in her booster seat, swinging her legs and idly singing to herself, or giggling with us, or talking.
In early December 2000, I begin a relationship with someone else. It is mere weeks before I am supposed to get engaged to my boyfriend. When I know that it is over but we haven't yet really dealt with it, when I am still living there, I pick his daughter up from daycare one day and, on the playground, she is trying to convince a friend of this so asks me: "You're my stepmom, because you're going to marry my daddy, aren't you? Aren't you?" On the drive home, the moment she falls asleep in her booster seat, I weep as quietly as possible.
He returns the engagement ring. I leave her a note when I move out. I once helped her to learn how to read and write. I never see her again.
March 2001-March 2002
Coral Gables, Fla.
Song(s): Pink Triangle, Weezer; Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying, Belle and Sebastian; Here, Pavement; I Don't Want To Get Over You, The Magnetic Fields
Movie: The Royal Tenenbaums
I share a two-bedroom with the person I left my boyfriend for, and our friend Alex (whose birthday was today -- or yesterday, by this point). I develop a serious interest in cooking and baking. We have a lot of parties and I feel young and vibrant and like everything that is happening is something too vital to miss out on. Some nights, we fall asleep in our bed watching The Goonies. Alex's Talking Heads obsession turns me off them for life. I get my first TiVo. I get my first dog. I make a lot of irrevocable mistakes. I have the best intentions.
April 2002-May 2002
Song: Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, The White Stripes
A house is bought. A house is painted. A house is furnished. A co-worker develops an interest in me. Etc.
May 2002-November 2002
Little Havana, Miami, Fla.
Song: Company Calls Epilogue, Death Cab For Cutie
Movie: Key Largo
I rent an overpriced, converted studio with a six-month lease. I buy my own bed, my own couch, my own TV. I frequent the various dog parks of Coconut Grove. I am, I think, really happy. I am also in love with the man with whom I intend to spend my life. It is unfortunate that our relationship exists almost entirely in my own head.
December 2002-November 2003
Miami Beach, Fla.
Song(s): New Slang, The Shins; whatever random Nas, Cee-Lo, reggae and dub my boyfriend inflicts upon me that I ingest with nary a complaint, because I am a doormat because I think being so will solve something
Movie(s): The Magnificent Seven (although not by choice); Kill Bill Vol. I
I rent a nice condo in a nice building where my dog can romp through the yard. It's on Indian Creek; iguanas sun themselves on the deck, and dolphins and seahorses swim in the water. I can see into my boyfriend's living room from my living room. I suspect he does not like this. This is more or less confirmed when he breaks up with me less than a week before I am scheduled to move to Hollywood, because I've started a job at the Sentinel and the commute is too much. If only that were even the beginning of the end of our relationship.
But did I mention that I had the best intentions?
This exercise is nostalgia/suicidal inclinations is taking longer than I thought it would, and it's too late for even me. Maybe some other day I'll be inspired to share the approximately seven places I've lived over the past three and a half years, and why, and how maybe everything was for the best even though it really doesn't seem like it a lot of the time.