I’m from Orlando, Florida. I was born at Orange Memorial Hospital on Orange Avenue, in downtown Orlando. This hospital, now known as Orlando Regional Medical Center, became the repository for the wounded early Sunday morning and was in lock down for the remainder of the day.
The weirdest thoughts play a game of wack-a-mole in your head in the midst of traumatic events. “My brothers and I were born in that hospital!” I said to my husband, from my stationery perch on my sofa, my eyes glued to the television coverage of madness and mayhem. The namesake of the hospital and the avenue were the surrounding orange groves. I guess that is why I loved this image created and released Sunday by one of Central Florida’s treasures- Anna Bond of Rife Paper Co. fame. Orlando is recognized worldwide for its amusement attractions. The Orlando of my youth was defined by the sweet smell of orange blossoms perfuming the Orlando air from row upon symmetrical row of Orange Groves.
Going forward, I don’t want Orlando to be defined by the shootings but rather by its heart. — The mile long line of people waiting for hours to donate blood; the surgeons and nurses who rushed to care for the wounded; the knowing looks that say, regardless of sexual orientation, friend or stranger, ethnicity, and place of origin, we are in this together. I wish this image could be the new symbol for our city. I don’t think in all my 63 years I’ve ever felt quite so rooted to my city.