Florida, Day 2

In 1993, my parents built this house in Bonita Springs. It’s in a country club community with all the usual trappings. Gated, beautiful 18 hole golf course, clubhouse with dining room, grill, large pool with cabana serving food and beverages, fitness center, many activities, lots of nice people of a certain type and demographic.

 I was raised in a golfing tennis playing country club world, so this is a natural extension of that and of course where my parents would choose to retire. A mirror image of their life in Minnesota. There are SO MANY Minnesotans in the Naples and Bonita area. When it gets chilly, you move your life and social life south.

 This house looks like most of them here. There’s not a lot of wiggle room for avant garde design. A mix of condos, villas and single family homes make up a giant neighborhood around the golf course. It’s a little boring, but a lot Florida. You could plunk this community into Arizona and have the same result. With less greenery.

 My mom brought her signature style of peaceful pastels and florals, and so much damn wallpaper it’s hard to know where to look. Everything is carpeted except one bathroom and the kitchen. Seriously, one of the bathrooms is carpeted. There are Florida touches everywhere, because, well, Florida. But it’s so similar to the Minnesota house in theme and tone. And you know what? It’s so peaceful. It’s actually really pretty in a Golden Girls type of genre.

 If you were going to dress like this house, you’d wear a floral caftan. Or you’d wear a golf skirt with a matching polo, in pastels of floral or plaid, of course, and you’d have a pastel cardigan to throw over your shoulders for dinner at the club. You’d wear White Shoulders perfume and Estee Lauder makeup.

 And now, this house is falling apart.  After 26 years, the age is showing, and with the lack of use these last years, it’s happening rapidly. The hurricane two years ago ripped off the screen pool cage, but that’s finally been replaced. It looks good out there. The refrigerator sounds like it’s in labor. There are windows that don’t open. We had a crew here 10 hours yesterday putting in a new HVAC system. The TV in the bedroom pooped out our first day here. There was something beeping every 11 seconds when we got here, and I’m not saying we for sure cut a few wires to make it stop, but I’m not saying we didn’t. The golf cart doesn’t work. The kitchen sink is leaking. And I’m over here cooking on a flat top electric stove that makes me say bad words.

 But guess what. I love it here. It smells like my parents. It smells like all the happy times we’ve had here, especially with kids. It smells like roast beef sandwiches, cocktail hour, sand and sun, a bit of chlorine and the faintness of Johnson’s baby soap and lotion from the endless washing off of sunscreen and sand before we dressed up to go out for dinner.

 I miss the days of being here when everything was sparkly and my mom made cookies and the kids spent 6 hours a day in the pool. I miss the golf cart rides and catching geckos and applying aloe to pink shoulders. I miss my parents, who are still living, but mere shadows of who they were. The stress of all 10 of us in this house for a week is something I don’t really miss, but I would pay big money to go back to one of those magical days we’ve spent here in the last 26 years.

 Thanks for the beautiful home and memories you gave us, Bumpa and Dodo. We miss you.

Golden Girls, Dodo Style

Golden Girls, Dodo Style

Jill Holter