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Windermere Observer Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017 4 months ago

MY VIEW: Windermere, the town that built me

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There’s a reason why, when introducing myself to a complete stranger, I note that I am from Windermere and not Orlando.

By Brad Gullett

There’s a reason why, when introducing myself to a complete stranger, I note that I am from Windermere and not Orlando — a city easily recognizable to anyone in the world and the obvious choice when engaged in conversation. The simple answer is it evokes a tremendous sense of pride every time I mention the one-and-a-half-square-mile town where I was raised; even if it means answering the inevitable follow-up question, “Well, where is that exactly?” And if you grew up in Windermere, or your children grew up here, the rest will sound familiar. 

When I made the drive into town last year to see my parents, my mind began to wander. With my two younger siblings away at college and the house next door now home to a family other than my childhood best friend’s, nostalgia began to creep in. Growing up, we felt like we owned an entire block of real estate, which played host to endless manhunt nights, backyard baseball (which we treated as warmups for the Little League games) and fishing off the boat ramp dock (watching Disney fireworks at the same time). 

Although I’ll never stop visiting, it’s no longer where, when I needed a break from the constant motion of college, I could escape to for days on end. It’ll always be home, and that will never change. But visiting has become a weekend vacation that must be planned ahead of time, making this place feel like something else entirely. 

Living in a new city isn’t all bad. It brings new experiences and new people — the excitement of exiting childhood and entering adulthood. But it doesn’t bring you that Fourth of July Pancake Breakfast at Town Hall you waited all year for; or the New Year’s block party at the house on the corner that attracted your favorite group of neighbors — year in and year out. And there certainly isn’t anything close to the Reddi Market — which, for anyone old enough to remember, was the place to get your fix of candy, Slushies and cap guns after school. 

It may seem odd that a young professional in his early 20s already finds himself reminiscing of better days. But when you grow up on dirt roads, where you never have to wear shoes, and you never have to tell your parents where you are at all times (something we definitely took for granted), you realize it was pretty amazing. I’ve always known how fortunate I was to have experienced childhood in Florida’s hidden gem but never quite knew how to convey my appreciation. Until now. Thank you, Windermere.

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