Fort Lauderdale
by Karen Schwartz
They asked me, what do you miss most about Fort Lauderdale,
So I replied, the persona I embodied while travelling abroad.
Shedding runners for stilettos, donning a bustier in place of bras,
I stood in high esteem; a confidence contrived.
Teetering above the crowd, I looked down on myself.
This shy teenage girl from Ontario, Canada;
wondering who have I become?

I spent my days at the beach.
With fingers sifting through silken sand,
I listened to the roar of the ocean;
the tranquility overtaking me, I became my meditative state.
I breathed in the life I was meant to live; still too young
to know what it was, trusting in its magnificence.
Growing pains are difficult; self-acceptance harder still.
Blossoming from introvert to extrovert, I didn't yet know
how to fill big shoes, but for now whether in sandals or in high heels,
my existence seemed fitting.

Nobody knew me here; in the South, and at the hotel's all-night lounge.
I was as foreign as Bloody Caesars are to American bartenders,
and yet he noticed me.
I was the girl with the golden bronze tan
that disguised my reserve,
and, he was the one with the reservation;
it was an intimate table for two.
We joked, we debated; we talked of subjects off limits.
It didn't take long before we knew I was the one.

Corny but true, I found my first love on the Southern coast.
He felt familiar. I could see myself with this man.
But he was American and I was Canadian;  
it couldn't work, this much I knew.
While love pulled me in his direction,
Toronto called me home.

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