Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Kite Running

We've spent the past week on a pilgrimage of sorts through Florida. Many friends may already know that my dear abuela passed away this April, on her 88th birthday. Alex and I left this past Thursday morning and drove all the way from Charlottesville to Melbourne, Florida, where we spent three days exploring the beaches of St. Augustine, Cocoa Beach, and Melbourne itself.
In Melbourne, we bought a parafoil kite at a small kite shop. In my family, we listed kites in with the other things you would need at the beach. Shovels, plastic buckets and sifters were your instruments for the beach earth, your swimsuit and goggles for the water, and the kite, you used to conduct the business of beach play in the sky. My dad, of course, acted as our kite sensei of sorts, running with the kite as we held the spool and string, and shouting to us "more slack!" and "pulluppulluppullup!" And somehow, even when the air seemed impossibly still, Dad could make a kite fly. There still, to me, seems to be something uncommonly wonderful about flying a kite that's too high for you to see - the tugging and dipping on the string is every bit as strong but comes from something that you can no longer see. It was Alex's first encounter with a kite. Our trip was a real gift. After this year of loss and redemption, on our vacation, we flew kites every day.

From Melbourne, we drove to Miami. Our time in Miami will be revisited later, but has been spent with family, searching out more of the story of my family's immigration from Cuba, and standing alongside my father as he continues the process of grieving my grandmother and closing the house we all knew as Abuela's for 50 years. We spend time with my dad's cousin, Ramon, and his wife, Maria. Once we told my dad that we'd bought the parafoil kite, of course, he made sure we found more time to fly kites again on the beach in Miami. Cubans love kites. We're driving to Tallahassee tomorrow to visit my other grandmother and will return to Charlottesville after spending a couple of days with her.

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