I learned the streets of Orlando through the window of the backseat of a car, through the eyes of a child. I learned the streets of Orlando with the context of landmarks and familiarity and daily habits – there is the poodle-shaped tree that means we are almost home, there is the little yellow house on the way to Grandma’s house, and there are the funny-looking miniature houses!
I’ve never consciously thought about where I was going in my hometown – my feet and hands just seem to know the way, as if they turn the wheel on their own. Suddenly I show up at my destination and I wonder how I got there. My body just knows.
Learning the streets of Tampa was a little different. I learned the streets of Tampa as a kid, new to the supposed adult world. I learned the streets of Tampa at night, in crowded cars, with too much time and too much freedom on our hands. I learned the streets of Tampa on foot, in the heat and in the rain, following protesters and trying to catch the next big story when the RNC came to town.
I learned the streets of Tampa the same way I learned myself the past four years, sometimes abruptly, sometimes slowly and sometimes I still take a wrong turn and have to reevaluate before I figure out where I’m going. In a way, I know the streets of Tampa better than those of Orlando because I had to concentrate to learn them, I had to pay attention.
I came to the streets of Miami as a postgraduate, fresh and wary of the real world that I had found myself in. I am no longer young enough to be lost – in my dress clothes, with my 9-to-5 schedule, I can’t afford to be left wandering and confused. Yet, I am less prepared than I thought I would be at 22, armed with a degree and four years of experience away from home.
I can’t say how well or how quickly I’ll learn the streets of Miami, it’s a big place and one I don’t really want to be in, but only time will tell. I’m sure I’ll learn something about myself along the way, really, I already have.