Posted by: birdmaddgirl | 18 January 2011

banyan tree

among the many reasons i am proud and glad of having grown up in south florida is the vegetation. it’s stunning. twenty years ago, there were quite a lot of huge banyan trees around miami. banyan trees have aerial roots; they begin life as a seed in the branches of another tree and grow down.  because of this, their roots are precarious. they often topple in strong hurricanes like andrew and wilma. i loved climbing them as a child, particularly the one in a neighbor’s backyard that overhung the canal and the one in the park near the elementary school. banyans tend to offer easy perches and plentiful handholds, although they also tend to host ant colonies.

i traveled home at the end of december for the first time in a year and several months. my flight plans changed so that i could extend my trip since my maternal grandma died. i lived in her house for half my life. my very first memory – a memory that i know is my own and not a reconstruction of a story or photograph – is of a walk around the block with my grandma.

there’s obviously emotional upheaval associated with this trip. much of it i anticipated. the stunning thing, the element i was unprepared for, was feeling completely uprooted. miami no longer feels like home. the sale of my grandma’s house several years ago was the first and clearest manifestation, but on subsequent trips miami still felt like someplace i could belong. not so any more. my immediate family is still in south florida, and i have many close friends there still. but now it just feels wrong. i don’t belong. the excess of pavement. the incessant driving. the dearth of trees. the city has changed and i have changed. in some way that i can’t fully define yet, i lost not only my grandma this winter, but also my hometown. what i have left is nostalgia and memories and love for what has passed.

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