Home Is Relative

I've always envied the characters on TV shows that get to come home to the house they grew up in.  I will never have that luxury.  We moved around too much.  At a very young age, my father was still in the Army.  Then we moved to Chicago.  Then my father enlisted again.  Then he got out again.  Then my parents split up.  Then money issues and different circumstances had us on the move for years.  Then my mom began traveling with work.

Miami is definitely home, but I've lived all over the city.  And it's a pretty big city.  We lived in Miami Gardens, North Miami Beach, Liberty City, Carol City, Pompano, Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park and probably some more areas, but you get my point.  We moved around a lot.  Now my mother lives in Maryland, so when I go "home" it's not like on TV when the kids go to that room they grew up in and it's just like they left it.  I can't rummage through a garage and find old pictures that I drew in third grade.

The closest I can come to a home - a physical residence that I can visit for nostalgia - is my uncle's house in Carol City (now Miami Gardens I guess).  First off, this uncle is my favorite uncle.  He's my mother's youngest brother and he's closer to me in age (13 years) than most uncles so his "coolness" didn't wear off when I became a teenager.  He's always been the guy that had his stuff together.  He's an entrepreneur in every sense of the word and always an inspiration to me.  PLUS, he now owns Grandmother's (his mother) old house.

The house looks nothing like it used to.  My uncle has renovated it to a point that it is completely different from when Grandmother owned it. The backyard that was once a nondescript backyard with grass, a couple of trees and some concrete is now a beautiful patio equipped with televisions, a bar, furniture, various decor, a pool, jacuzzi, refrigerator and seascape artwork on the walls.  The interior has been renovated over the years with changes as elaborate as a nearly wall-sized fish tank headboard.  Walls have been removed.  Room functions have been changed.  It's a completely different place than "Grandmother's house".  But it's home.

I get a nostalgic feeling whenever I make that turn off of the Palmetto Expressway into my uncle's neighborhood.  Good memories flood my mind when I pull up to the circular driveway that used to be a fountain that used to be a walkway to what used to be an iron fence.  It's still home.  

One lasting memory from home is when my mother straight up embarrassed the crap out of me in front of that house.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  I always wanted to be different with style.  From ironing "crease designs" into my jeans to wearing a vest jacket instead of a traditional blazer to a mock trial, I tried to be different.  So I thought it was awesome when my mom brought home berets for my brother and me.  Nobody wore berets!  I had seen them in movies on military members and French people.  France is in Europe.  Europeans have style.  I would be the trendiest middle school kid in America!  

The day we would debut our berets (yes we still dressed alike in middle school.  yes people made fun of us) would be at my uncle's house.  He always had parties.  Back then he had only made minor changes to the place.  While adjusting my stylish beret, I noticed a pimple on my face.  Where did that come from?  It was just above my top lip and left of my nose.  How could I debut my beret with a pimple?  I went to my loving mother with my dilemma.  She's always supportive.  I made it clear that this pimple couldn't upstage my beret and I couldn't postpone wearing the beret.  I mean, when would the next party be?  What if someone beat me to it?  This crisis needed to be addressed.

My mom suggested that I make a beauty mark.  I kind of scoffed at the idea at first, but then it started to make sense.  Moles could pop up on people.  My sister and I used to compare new moles whenever we found them on our bodies.  Cindy Crawford was famous because of her mole/beauty mark.  And just my luck, my pimple was in the same area as Cindy Crawford.  Go ahead, Mom.  Draw a mole on my pimple!

She did.  I looked in the mirror and I liked it.  Why hadn't I thought of this myself?  The mole added class to my already classy, ground-breaking, European style.  Jason put his beret on.  He looked sharp and trendy in his own right, but me?  With my new black marker mole?  You couldn't tell me nothin'! I was the pre-teen pinnacle of the fashion world!

We pulled up to my uncle's house.  We were late for the party (fashionably, of course) and my uncle was standing in the street talking to some people that were in the yard.  My favorite uncle/role model/father figure walked up smiling.  We got out of the car to greet him.  Mom didn't wait.

       - Baby Brother, you see Jon's mole?!
       - I was wondering what that was.

He squinted at me.

       - He had a pimple, so he covered it with marker like a mole.
       - Oh.

Favorite Uncle was so nice.  He chuckled a bit.  I think he saw the absolute terror in my face.  My heart dropped.  I ran back to the car and jumped in the front seat.  My face was hot with embarrassment.  I laughed through the fear and pain. I thrust my face in the rear view mirror and grabbed a napkin from the glove compartment.  I licked the napkin about 119 times and wiped at my "beauty mark".  Thoughts flooded my head.  Why did this woman betray me like this?  It was her idea!  Why did I agree to this?  This is so stupid.  Speaking of stupid... why do I have this STUPID French hat on?!  I'm the most ridiculous person ever!  I have a damn beret on with marker on my face to cover a pimple!  How did I make so many bad decisions in a row?

I survived the party.  With the beret on.  Jason wore his, and I couldn't let him do that alone (in case everybody liked it).  People were nice about the berets.  Nobody said we looked stupid audibly, but we knew enough that it was a failure that we never wore it again.  I've had many more memories at that house and I am sure that I will have even more.  It was great to bring the next generation into the house and celebrate Thanksgiving last Thursday there.  I was home.  Albeit a different home throughout the years.  I won't ever be able to go through any old boxes or familiar rooms, but that place is still home to me.  If I were able to leave some things there to reflect on years later like in the movies; it definitely wouldn't be a beret.  Until next time...

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