Florida Birthday Girl
You wake me early, with a kiss-scapade and your eyes bright like the morning light that snuck through onto my pillowcase.
You open my car door with a knowing grin, and I make ridiculous guesses, but you refuse to reveal your plans.
First, across the bridges of Jacksonville, to historic Avondale, where old-Florida gardens and old-money mansions show us their frills.
My first time at the Fox, a vintage hole-in-the-wall, where my “Mmmm!” for their creamy grits and bacon is no surprise to you at all.
Your eyes look up from your coffee, you wink, and say to me “I knew you’d love this novelty.”
One neighborhood over, to the Arts Market of Riverside, where rainbow flags fly freely and queer faces feel safest to show unashamedly.
You grab my hand, as we cross bustling streets.
The shop door dings at Southern Crossing Antiques, where we weave through booths decked with treasures, quirky and unique.
You spot the hand-spun mugs Feminist and Wifey, a no-brainer decision, now yours and mine to keep.
Keeping on pace, to the Midnight Sun, where incense welcomes us to vibrant fabrics, wooden instruments and raw natural stones.
Around your neck, I place a string of tiny bamboo beads.
To Brew Five Points, where tattooed baristas are the norm and our fingers touch together with the steamy afternoon storm.
Outside, I catch you exchanging a laugh with a homeless man as you hand him cash to catch a matinee, next door at the Sun-Ray.
Another surprise, a short drive, to the Cummer Museum, where we slowly breath in the works of Impressionists, from Monet to Matisse.
You study the Lilies with me, letting me squint at each piece, leaning to look from every angle, letting this be my idiosyncrasy.
A one-block walk to River & Post, where the patio breeze touches our skin and their fresh-catch entree satisfies the rest of our senses.
You hold my gaze, over ice-cold cider, and speak of the apple farm we will own one day.
Back home, after returning from over the north-flowing St. Johns River, we relax our bones and rest for the night.
Sunday morning rises, and you hold me deep in your arms, in no rush.
You announce your surprises are not over yet.
I say this is too much, and you put your finger to my lips, to hush anything I might say next.
To the part of town where we had our many firsts together, towards the familiar comfort and salty air of Atlantic Beach.
A stroll down Dewees Street, where sea-turtle nests dot the beach, sand-crabs scurry past our feet, and white foam laps up from the sea.
You carry my sandals in-hand with yours, as if you have every intention of spoiling me until death do us part.
From ocean swells to Southern Swells, where we sip summertime taps, golden flights and berry-sour delights.
We look on your phone at large lots for sale, acres of potential, knowing full well our dreams will realize in their own time.
Back at home, under dappled light and shady oaks, the afternoon sun dips low.
The smell of summer so delightful, the juice of burgers drips onto charcoal.
Now a bit tipsy, you set my bourbon down for me, and lead me in a sloppy slow dance complete with pomp and circumstance.
How well you know me, that I’d savor this weekend of local sights and spontaneity, your way of showing me the happiest of birthdays.
© Candice Reineke 2019