You Should Always Knock on the Door
Miami Beach, United States
Today's big adventure was a road trip a few hours north of Miami Beach to Melbourne, where my family and I lived in the early 80s. I spent my first four years growing up in Melbourne—perhaps anchoring me forever to a life near the coast. I'm a Florida boy—a beach bum. Nowhere else on the Planet looks and smells like this place.
There were seven of us in the minivan rental (my family plus the girlfriends and baby). Dad narrated the tour as we drove around the still slow-paced city, full of wide residential streets, lush patches of Bermuda and St. Augustine grass, manufactured homes, and unassuming white-collar industry. Manatees still roam the Melbourne riverside, and the coast always seems to be only a couple blocks away. It was a great place to be as a child.
Dad told stories from the late 70s and early 80s about how he and mom came to live in Melbourne after the Army, how he snagged his first job here, and where went to school for his MBA (mere blocks from our house and his work). He showed us the hospital where we were born, and recalled how regularly dressed in raingear when feeding the infant versions of my brother and me (as not to soil his clothes before rushing off to class).
It was no surprise how rundown our home had become. Dad said it was already looking pretty lackluster when he drove past in the early 90s. He told us about our neighbors, and how much time we spent in the care of an East German woman known to us as Mrs. Harvey. I can't say I remember much about her husband, but I do remember her house, backyard, and most of all, the glass bowls full of candy.
We were speculating about what ever happened to Mrs. Harvey, slowing inching past her house in the rental, when dad noticed a placard with 'Harvey' written on it, outside the home. "Nooooo…" Dad gasped.
We egged him on to get out of the car and knock on the front door, which he did without much coaxing.
We all watched eagerly from the air-conditioned vehicle as the door finally opened with a slow, hesitant pull. Then, dad smiling, and a thumbs-up: It was Mrs. Harvey!
Stepping into her home was like stepping into a time machine—everything was just as it was from two and a half decades prior. Sitting in chairs or on the couch, everyone listened as (a still sharp) Mrs. Harvey recounted tales of my antics as a youngster with her grandmotherly German accent.
We left after catching up with many laughs, showing off Aidric, and reuniting memories long forgotten—a real special treat not just for us Heimburger guys, but for the women with us as well.
Not long after, we arrived for dinner at the home of a couple who my folks had spent a lot of time with when we lived in Florida. Dad met Robert through work, and my mom and Robert's wife became very close friends. We looked through baby photos of us taken with our folks and their little ones (about the same age as we are), and then proceeded to become absurdly stuffed from some serious Italian cooking.
To have so much family in Florida at one time, plus reconnecting with the people that looked after you and loved you as a child—and to share it all with the new people in your life… wow. This was a special day.