by Mike Amius
The fresh sent of pine and the feeling of Florida’s tropical breeze has represented a bunch of different meanings to me all throughout my life. At times it symbolized freedom when I stepped outside and ventured my large neighborhood. Other times it represented terror as I ran away from loose hounds. As my life progressed however, things became less censored and the area in which I grew up in has slowly become tainted by the harsh realities of the outside world.
It hit me hard, I couldn’t exactly grasp the sensational that oozed out of my body. My hands trembling with excitement, the sun stinging my oily complexion. This was something I grew accustomed to and also something I never truly appreciated. Stepping outside was always a treat, I never knew what to expect. In my youth, it almost felt like I was unwrapping gifts from underneath a Christmas tree when I stepped outside – both feelings mutual. My friends would wiz by my sight racing on their new mountain bikes to see which of theirs was faster. Nowadays, those kids are escaping trouble, zipping through the neighborhood on bikes they stole from a few doors down. A sight I once took for granted, will never appear the same in my eyes and the eyes of others.
Being a product of my environment was never something I took with a grain of salt. My environment was carefree and perfect in my young eyes, trouble didn’t have the same definition to me as it does today. It’s easy to look at my past mistakes and wish I didn’t make them. Getting caught for sneaking an extra donut in my room form the kitchen seemed like the ultimate crime compared to my perception of trouble today. In my neighborhood, trouble is represented by a full block shutdown to capture and lock away murderers to rot in a cold cell for eternity or kids getting locked away for grand theft. This transformation donned on me as I got older and sadly it is something I have grown used.
The transformation of the area I grew up in has caught me by surprise. Think of it like a movie with no happy ending, the beginning is innocent and hopeful, then the tragedy happens, the end. There's no sequels or redos, life doesn't provide that option to its viewers. The summers have become vacant and colder compared to when I was younger. My neighborhood used to have volume and life, instead the streets are empty. Empty of people but filled with a decrease in the air that is almost unavoidable to breathe in, violence. Those who I grew up with have found better means of living and others earned their way behind bars.