A Lesson in History and Culture

PICTURE MaryGrowing up, my street never changed. In the summer, zinnias bloomed. In the fall, acorns would brush against the concrete pavement as my car glided onto the driveway. Winter lights flashed as dead leaves piled on our porch, and in the spring, bees and pollen and mosquitoes from the river would dance outside my window.

I grew up in a community where people lived in the same house for years. Where neighbors would let me pick the grapefruits and oranges off their backyard trees, and tell me the garage code to let their dogs out when they were at work. My neighbors came over for Christmas, knocked on my door for butter, asked me to pick up oatmeal when they knew I was going to the store, and invite me on fishing trips or bike rides along the river.  When I say I live in Arlington, people react as if they had just bit into a lemon thinking it was an orange. I hear “ghetto,” “ruined,” “integrated,” and “trash,” as if my side of town is just a landfill for everyone’s negativity. People often forget the beauty, the people, the history, and culture that is right at my fingertips.

The Fort Caroline National Memorial holds the history of the Timucua Indians, one of Florida’s first settlers. Walk through and find mounds of oyster shells that touched the hands of these ancient people. Blue Cypress Park holds soccer games, play grounds, nature trails, even a pier to see the St. Johns River where one can bike ride or just sit and watch the sun set. One of my favorites is the Jacksonville Arboretum, where every year they have an annual gathering with music and food that after helping clean the park, one can join in. People often forget the little stores like the Plant Place Nursery, where the owner allowed my mother and her autistic student to volunteer, giving her student the chance to feel as if he was a part of something and have a job.

The community of Arlington holds a necessity to Jacksonville’s history and culture, and no matter where one is from, their community does the same thing.

-Mary Feimi, Junior Editor-in-Chief

Fiction as Told By a Poet

Beautiful-Pool-with-Exotic-ViewThis year’s transition of genres was especially hard. Last year, I hardly noticed.  Moving from fiction into poetry was a prize at the end of the road. Junior year’s second semester opened the door for my voice. A voice, that in the first semester, I didn’t even know was there. And this year, I felt the hinges break off. Of course, beginning with the immersion of poetry gave me a taste I wasn’t ready to let go come January. I was scared that all of the progress I made in poetry would fall excruciatingly short in comparison to fiction.

I am unbelievably happy that I was wrong.

All that I’ve learned in since January has truly surprised me. And it hasn’t all been in the classroom either. Before this year, ideas for stories never came to mind like poems did. Whenever I go out now, I find a character in unintentional eavesdropping, a setting at a stop light, and conflict everywhere I turn. The pages in my journal now hold something other than line breaks.

Fiction, dare I say it, is beginning to feel natural.

The way I see it, poetry is a well leading to an underground reservoir. Each line plunges you farther and farther to the source, the intention, the purpose of the piece. Fiction, on the other hand, is an in-ground pool. Its depths and shallows are chosen very specifically. There’s room to swim around—even a patio to socialize and sunbathe. Fiction allows you to take your time. But in any sense, lazily. This room promotes emotional investment that poetry’s brevity sometimes prohibits.

Fiction is a second home that always reminds me of my first. The childhood house that felt like a fortress to get lost inside. Fiction is not wanting to find my way out.

-Mariah Abshire, Editor-in-Chief