Tag Archives: Bayside

Once Upon a Time

In the mid-60s, as a girl with my grandparents, every Sunday we rode the Metro bus to attend services at First Faith Cathedral. Once church was over, we hopped on another bus to downtown that took us to the Painted Horse, a favorite all-you-can-eat restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard. Adults ate for 99 cents and kids for 49 cents. I preferred the hamburger steak with macaroni and cheese, and even though they displayed Jell-O in every color to choose from, my favorite: red.

After lunch, we would head for the Miami Public Library, near Bayfront Park. Grandpa would walked on ahead, while I strolled along with Grandma under her umbrella. We’d stop by a large pond filled with giant goldfish and feed them crackers. The park was next to a waterfront where fancy boats and exquisite yachts sailed by. As I waved to them, I imagined how the rich folk lived.

Once we arrived at the library, I’d take the elevator to the children’s section on the second floor while my grandparents remained reading in the downstairs lobby. I strolled the aisles running my hands across the binders of the books neatly stacked on shelves. I loved the smell of those books, the textures, the colors, even the different lettering.

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My imagination ran wild as I’d choose a fairy tale, sit on a nearby stool and read about magical and faraway places. In my mind, I turned beautiful and clever all in one.

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I pretended to be Cinderella, overjoyed that the glass slipper fit my foot perfectly and that my uncle, the tall Prince Charming, singled me out to dance. I imagined my brother as Hansel and I Gretel, hunting for food, and then eating chunks of candy broken off the cottage with no evil witch in sight. I pictured myself as Little Red Riding Hood who saved Grandma from the Big Bad Wolf. While reading, I became all those characters and more—until Grandpa called for me, saying, “Mary, time to go home.”

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My real so-called adventures didn’t take me to faraway lands like those in the books I read. My adventures were riding around town on those city buses. If the bus was crowded, we stood while swaying back and forth. Back and forth. Grandpa held onto straps. Unable to reach them, I held onto the bars instead.

“Mary, hold on tight now,” Grandma cautioned. Grandpa stood nearby, ready to steady Grandma or me if needed. I don’t think he enjoyed riding on the bus much.

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When it was time, I liked to pull the cord to signal the driver to let us off.

“Now, Grandpa?” I asked, not wanting to miss our stop.

“Not yet. Be patient, young lady.”

“How about now?”

“I’ll let you know when it’s time.”

Eventually, the sunny, bright-colored Sable Palms apartment complex came into view.

“Okay, now, young lady,” Grandpa nodded.

I would kneel on the seat and reached for the cord, or sometimes Grandpa hoisted me up. I pulled on the cord fast, once, twice, and sometimes even three times for the bus driver to stop. Then swoosh the rear doors opened, we exited, and then the door swish closed.

Palm tree-lined winding roads landscaped and shaded the path to my grandparents’ home. Often coconuts fell from those towering trees and I’d run to pick one up for us.

I’ll never forget one day when we arrived home, I overheard Grandpa complaining to Grandma about standing too close to so many people.

“¿Tu ves, Ana?” he said, showing her something. “See? They stole my wallet.”

From the hall, I listened.

“Oh, no!” Grandma gasped, staring at his inside-out pocket in disbelief.

“We have to stand so close we are like sardines. Too easy for someone to put his hands in my back pocket; taking my wallet out without me knowing.”

It made me sad to think someone would do something bad to my grandpa, stealing from him as if we were rich. Then again, maybe we were.

(An excerpt from Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace)

© M.A. Pérez 2018, All Rights Reserved

I loved books then. I love books now. I remember the simple things in life as a child, having a vivid imagination to take me to some wonderful faraway places.

We all have them. What are some of your fond memories as a child?

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Filed under Memoir, nostalgia

Part II ~ On a Wing and a Prayer

fullsizerender-3-copyIn counting my blessings this Thanksgiving holiday, I can’t help but to think about all of the challenges (See Part Onewe’ve experienced these past few months. It’s been refreshing for me to enjoy some quality time with my long-distance familia, especially being with Daddy again. Those of you who’ve read my memoir, you know how grateful I am that my maternal grandmother kept in contact with my dad after he and my mother divorced. I was only three when my parents separated and five when their divorce finalized. I am happy to report that in my adult years, I’ve come to know the love of my heavenly Father, and I am equally happy to report that I’ve come to know the love of my earthly father as well. I know many don’t have this luxury. Even though miles separate us, I am thankful that Daddy is still around and so full of life. I wouldn’t change anything about him; I love him just the way he is – young at heart!

fullsizerender-6-copyWithin a couple of days, we had the pleasure of visiting two of Daddy’s cariñosas sisters whom genuinely exude warm, big and loving hearts. Titi Blanca and Titi Viviana were gracious during our visits. Not to be out done by the other, both can sure cook up a storm. Their specialties were arroz con pollo, a delicious one-pot mealfullsizerender-9-copygl closely related to paella, and ropa vieja, which is shreds of meat, peppers, and onions resembling a mess of colorful rags. We helped ourselves to seconds … or thirds, and chased it down with a warm cup of cafe con leche. Unfortunately, we missed seeing another aunt on this trip, but promised Titi Edie that on our next visit to Florida, she would be the first stop.

My hubby’s busted ribs from his 20′ fall are still healing. He is such a trooper. Although needing to do a lot of sitting, even taking naps when allowed, he still wanted to take part in all the festivities of our mini-vacation. We spent half a day lounging under the sunny Florida skies at Bayside, the shopping, dining, and entertainment center of Downtown imagesMiami. We enjoyed the live music and watching couples dancing to the merengue. We skipped the booze and ordered shots of espresso Cuban coffee (but I like mine with plenty of warm milk,) and we ate pastelitos de guayaba, mmmmm.

Our oldest, Anna Marie, joined us on this trip, flying in before we did. The last time she visited la familia was on her 18th birthday — 22 years ago! We got to celebrate her birthday again in Miami, which was pretty special.collage-2016-12-15

On our last evening, the hardest part is always saying goodbye. You cannot keep the tears at bay as they start to fall. I still hate goodbyes, especially with long-distance loved ones. After Mark’s accident and in the preparation of this getaway, a lot of prayers had gone forth. There were numerous of times when I wasn’t sure we were going to make this trip for the holidays. But I am so thankful to the Lord that together we made it, and together we are stronger than before. When you’re in the midst of a crisis, things come into focus and the pettiness of the yesterdays take a back seat. We dare not take one another for granted. Look around you. Life is worth living when you begin to count your blessings.

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But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

 

© M.A. Pérez, 2016, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Florida, Vacation