One of the first things that attracted me to the little townhouse, where I now reside, was the church bells. The first time the Realtor showed it to me, I could hear them ringing just down the street. They reminded me of my early childhood in Italy, and of our last home on the Florida Treasure Coast. Jack I lived our last dream in a beautiful Mediterranean style condominium called the Renaissance.
It was a landmark building on the intercostal waterway, in the center of the small historical town of Fort Pierce. The Renaissance promised to be the beginning of new era for Fort Pierce. Aside from the thirty seven exclusive residences, the building sported a bank, bakery, gelato parlor, spa and an art gallery. On Saturday mornings it overlooked the Farmers Market where local Jazz musicians delighted in playing on the waterfront town square.
Jack used to jokingly tell everyone that we moved there because of it was so "centrally located". It stood right between our two favorite places, St. Andrews Church (for me) and the Tiki Bar (for him). The bells of St. Andrew’s made it feel like home, and the truth is it was all very beautiful. The only thing it was not, was long lasting. The housing crash unfortunately coincided with the completion of the building and unbeknownst to us, ninety percent of the owners to be, backed out of their contracts.
Jack and I were the building’s first residents; we were actually the only residents for several months. It was a little eerie living in a large luxurious building alone in the midst of a deserted town. It truly felt like a ghost town, which was a little ironic as I had just completed a screenplay called “Treasure Ghost Tours” about a woman who recently lost her husband in a plane crash and wound up in an old haunted building on the Treasure Coast. Oddly, it did not occur to me until now just how prophetic that “story” actually was.
At any rate, in less than a year the building was in financial trouble and by the second year, we were facing bankruptcy, both personal and communal. It was all a huge disaster. Unlike the screenplay however, no unexpected treasures came to our rescue. We were heavily invested in real estate on the adjacent island and one by one we lost all our properties, including our home at the Renaissance. Along with our finances, Jack’s health had been steadily declining. He seemed to require more and more rest and before long he could hardly walk to the market downstairs without stopping to catch his breath.
As we began packing up to leave, we both agreed that it might be best if I went to Orlando, where my daughter lived and try to find a job, until the market picked up in Fort Pierce. Jack found a small rental duplex on the island where he would stay and maintain the business until we were able to get back on our feet again. As soon as the move was complete, I left for Orlando in hopes of finding some way to help us get through the difficult circumstances.
The following week Jack called and said he had the flu. I wanted to come back, but he insisted I stay as he did not want to expose me to the flu. I stayed busy helping my daughter out with the baby, putting together a resume and researching the dismal job market. The transition was daunting to say the least.
Jack and I spoke on the phone several times a day and I was growing more concerned by the day about his his health. He insisted I stay put, using the price of gas and possible exposure to germs to defend his request. When I woke up at six a.m. the next morning, I knew in no uncertain terms that I had to go back.
I found Jack burning up with fever and so weak he could barely make it to the car. I rushed him to the hospital. According to the doctors, I had shown up in the nick of time, and against all odds, he survived the trauma. Inside, I think we both knew that it was the beginning of the end. We were both grateful however, for a little more time to come to terms with the inevitable. All we could do now, was accept what we had to work with and make the best of the circumstances, whatever they may be.
I had to stop writing for a little while, so I decided to take a walk. As I walked along the wooded path, I thought about how much my circumstances have changed in the past year. There are no more deep blue waters or yacht filled marinas along my path. The houses on this block are not elegant, and the fresh scent of the ocean does not fill the air. Here the lingering scents are earthy and the streets are shaded in hues of greens and brown; and while it may not be what I expected, as I look at at all the old oaks so elegantly draped in soft Spanish moss, I can't help but to appreciate their beauty.
Circumstances have truly changed, but as I listen to the birds merrily chirping in the trees and the melodic church bells chiming behind me, I am reminded that all is not lost. Nor will it ever be, so long as there is a path to walk on and a cardinal or two reminding me to keep going, there will always be hope.