Writing about the variance in weather between the front of our London flat and the back of it makes me remember the first time I experienced straddling a weather pattern*. I was 6 or 7, and my family lived in Winter Park in central Florida, where we rented a house for 6 months or so whilst my parents looked for a more permanent place for the family.
The rental house in Winter Park had a large room with windows lining two opposite walls, affording a view of both the front and back yards. One day, there was a storm pouring down in the back yard, but the front yard was untouched.
Thinking about the rental house in Winter Park reminds me of Mr. Sulowski. He was a few years younger than my parents. I think he worked with my father, and they became friends. I think of Mr. Sulowski when I think of the Winter Park rental house because I remember my mother and him, sitting on the front stoop of the house and talking. Mr. Sulowski’s jeans were riding down, and my brother and I could see his butt crack.
My brother and I thought that an adult's butt crack was the most hysterical thing in the world. In the kitchen, we tried to drink our coca-colas, but kept thinking of Mr. Sulowski’s butt crack and, as a result, spit up coke on the kitchen table.
My mom wanted to know what was so funny; which of course we couldn’t say.
A few weeks later Mr. Sulowski died in a plane crash. He was coming back from the Bahamas in a propeller engine plane. For the longest time I thought Mr. Sulowski was a victim of The Bermuda Triangle, which had figured prominently in my nightmares because when it had been my brother’s turn to choose a family movie, he chose a documentary on The Bermuda Triangle. I fell asleep during that documentary, but must have retained a sense of fear, because ever since I wanted to make sure I never took a plane or ship anywhere near Bermuda. As a child I confused the Bahamas, Bermuda, and Barbados.
Mr. Sulowski left a widow and 2 young boys.
Sometimes I wonder what my mother and he were discussing when they were out on the front step. With an adult’s view onto that memory, it seems to me that my mother and he were having a serious conversation. Maybe they were ending an affair. Maybe my mother was doling out advice as to how to handle my father. Maybe the were just shooting the shit in a way adults do, but children don't understand.
All the whilst, my brother and I laughed and spit out our cokes.
*Similarly to the way I straddled four states on my recent holidays: a toe in Utah, a toe in Arizona, a heal in Colorado, and the other in New Mexico.