After a multi-year hiatus, the Orlando Sentinel has decided to publish a My Word column at last…here’s the link “Orlando indeed incomparable to others”.
Here’s the unedited version…
Beth Kassab’s column about the best “other” downtown reinforced my feeling that Orlando is THE best downtown around. Having just returned, after a seven year “retirement” in New Smyrna Beach, I am so happy to be back that I sometimes have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.
Now, don’t get me wrong, New Smyrna Beach is a wonderful retreat and our go-to choice for a beach vacation, however, living there full time was just not as fulfilling as we envisioned. Many would comment on their wish to live in paradise year round but they might think twice for what they wish.
A typical trip to the grocery store in a beach community, depending on the season, might mean dodging shopping carts among aging snow birds or standing in line with beachgoers who forgot to cover up overexposed body parts. (I know it’s the beach but, please, folks, wait till you hit the waves before showing off your new bikini!)
On the other hand, our visits to the downtown grocer, located under a high rise apartment building, have been much more pleasant since we are usually the oldest shoppers in sight. We find ourselves surrounded by, what used to be called, yuppies of every type. The dress code is office casual or, sometimes, it is apparent they are picking up dinner after a visit to the gym. In the case of the latter we have seen many a finely sculpted bottom. As you can imagine, my husband now accompanies me on every trip. “Where shopping is a pleasure,” has a new meaning.
Replacing the beach with the various lakes available downtown for daily walks has been a delight. Shade is a valuable asset which cannot be found along the shore, and there are just so many shells one can collect on the beach. The addition of sculptures around Lake Eola is a testament to the city’s nickname, The City Beautiful, and adds to the sense of metropolitan culture which we have missed.
It was tough leaving our neighbors and friends but know they are only an hour’s drive away. Our small town experience was a lesson which made us realize we were not ready to leave the city. We’ll save those “other” downtowns for day trips. Meanwhile, we will relish being a part of Orlando’s cultural growth and retire in style.