“If I Had Given the Neighborhood More Time…”

Tom Tito, a Bartlett Park activist who I have spoken to on numerous occasions, has responded to Alex’s comment on my article on his Creative Loafing blog.

Tito makes some excellent points about our neighborhood, but he says one thing that I believe is flawed:

“If she had given the neighborhood more time she would have found a large number of black residents who are the best neighbors you could ever meet.”

While he may be right, I believe that life consists of little moments rather than the big picture. If I stayed here longer I might, indeed, see that. But here’s the thing that haunts me, the thing that has prompted me to call a Realtor and list the house:

525,600 minutes.

If you’ve seen Rent you get the reference, but if you haven’t, let me explain. That’s how many minutes it takes to measure a year. I have almost a million minutes of my life spent here, a million minutes spent having to call police. A million minutes spent having things stolen. A million minutes spent disgusted with the City, my neighbors, the absentee landlords, and, finally, with myself.

A million minutes spent learning to hate.

Those are minutes I will never get back and I cannot change. Sure, if I give the neighborhood more time that might change. I believe the neighborhood will change, probably for the better.

I used to work for Pinellas County. In our building we had a lot of career employees. I watched one too many people suffer through decades of what amounted to abject misery because the County had pretty decent retirement. They had goals, dreams, plans… and they suffered because the end, they believed, would justify the means. And I watched more than one of those people die just before retirement or immediately after. They never got the prize, just the rough road along the way.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in my life. Five years ago I was on a different track altogether. Three years ago I had no intention of ever leaving Gulfport. Two years ago I had high hopes for this adorable little house on 21st Avenue South. And today I want more than anything to sell that adorable home and move somewhere that lets me enjoy the minutes that paint the big picture.

That’s all any of us have: right now. It’s 8:07 now. 8:08 is not a guarantee. All I have is how much I like who and what and where I am right now. I love who I am, I can admit what I am, but as for the where? It isn’t where I need or want to be.

If you can promise me- PROMISE me- that I have another 20 years left, another 10, or, hell, even another day, I will stay here. I’ll wait it out.

Any takers?

Yeah, I thought not.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.