The first thing I notice is that the airport, now called 
"International," is an hour outside of town. I guess Orlando 
has outgrown the cozy, downtown airport of my youth 
some fifty years earlier. Climbing into my rental Corolla...

	I fasten the safety belt. My father bought it at Sears last 
	year. This is my mother's car, a '49 Ford sedan. I have 
	just turned 16 and was able to pass my driver's exam 
	on my birthday. My mother has given me $5 for my first 
	"driving" date. I have trepidations as I start the engine, 
	shift into first gear and...

I pull out into the airport exit lane. Right away I notice that 
the miles and miles of orange groves have been replaced by 
thousands of apartment complexes, all built since my 
departure, but already showing signs of age and disrepair. I 
begin to think of the fresh faces of my classmates, now 
approaching 70, and especially my steady girlfriend 
Joanne. Traffic is slowing ahead of me so I...

	Ease my way onto the two lane blacktop toward 
	Joanne's house. With $5, I can buy a gallon of gas, 
	burgers, fries and drinks for both of us and admission 
	to the Rimar Drive-In Theatre, where on previous 
	double dates we sat in the back seat never out of view 
	of the rearview mirror. Tonight we will be in the front 
	seat and, more importantly, we will be alone. The air 
	is starting to chill as I...

Slowly hit the brakes, coming to a stop in the bumper to 
bumper traffic. Finally, I pass the accident scene and 
resume speed, heading to the former Orlando Youth Center 
building which is now a function room available for rental 
and tonight the home of my 50th reunion. Arriving at the 
parking lot I...

	Open the car door and welcome Joanne in, waving to her 
	parents looking out the front door. Tonight Joanne has a 
	surprise. She has bought me a shirt for my birthday. 
	"Now", she says, "put this on and take me dancing. They 
	have a new Dee Jay at the Youth Center and I am dying 
	to go." Arriving at the parking lot I...
		(First published in Veils - 2020)

Next Poem

Drive-in Theater

Return to Down South Selection