She’s one of my platonic soulmates. Authorial pal. The lean-on whenever ration should conquer my emotions. She’s the magnifying glass helping me zoom on problems and solutions. We tap our writing utensils in unison. If you compare our four-letter personality types, we diverge at one: INFJ, me, burrowed in the wreckage of sentiment; her, INTJ, shuttered and reasonable. But that’s why it works. We’re just different enough to leave space for mutual growth, close enough to touch the same veins of friendship’s circulatory system.
All of my closest relationships have no anniversary date. They rose from maybe a little word, a brief outing, or a trivial rant session and jigsawed together until love finalized the picture. Those, friendships in my experience last. Being an introvert who puddles into a weary gelatinous blob when pummeled with too much social interaction, I am naturally drawn to my fellow “I” types. We can forget to text one another and stew in our independent lives, but reaffirm our bond in a flash. Chloe is one of those whose love never abated even after my bout in Sweden, my tumultuous moods, my propensity to vanish, and in no phrasing can I capture her value. Knowing her name sits in my phone and her house just an hour and a half or so away is a comfort. Cheers to friends. And adventures likes ours, shared.
Tampa is a segmented city and Hyde Park boasts, in my opinion, its quaintest bungalows and loveliest afternoon strolls. The Village itself provides a compact outdoor shopping quarter, boutiques and local shops like Piquant, Paper Source & Blue Moon Trading Co. flirting with West Elm & Francesca’s. Construction dusts settles atop the walkways at present, pauses most vehicular thru-traffic, but train your ears to block out the rattle & just observe the splishing central fountain, the unwrinkled textile displays and bakecases. Step up to Buddy Brew, open the door and inhale a roasty draft extracted from the mod bar punctuating a crystalline white-marble counter. Order a cappuccino for yourself and a sweet caramel iced latte for a comrade. Claim a sidewalk table and people-watch, chat, gasp and laugh at an army of poodles prancing by on puffy paws. Even if the other retailers stray from budget, seize simple sights in your left hand and your coffee mug in the right.
Cups drained, we packed up and roamed down Rome St. beneath threads of bougainvillea and shady oak branches. Marveled at porches, decided large houses aren’t our thing. Eventually the tunnel of trees opens to a panorama of the Bay, and once you’re closer every gemstone on the water twinkles to beckon you forward. We followed Bayshore a bit and circled another street back to the parking garage. The more I wander cities new and familiar, the more I realize my paths are aimless, I embody the winging-it lifestyle and hardly heed street names. I merely pick a street and walk, see what I see, feel what I feel, and move on. I’m lucky I remembered Rome and Bayshore, honestly.
This was not my first visit to Hyde Park – I’ve explored the stores and even toured the luscious interior of On Swann, before the restaurant opened. Find a small guide below to what interests me most; click here for a general directory for additional browsing. Take a friend along and enjoy the places you agree on and the places you begrudgingly enter out of compromise. Though, I’m sure you won’t grunt too loudly anywhere in the Village.
- Buddy Brew Coffee – Crisp and clean interior and brews signature to all BBC locations. The space is small and can get quite crowded during peak hours, but if the weather’s nice I’d try foremost to snag an outdoor seat beneath the umbrellas. They also offer free WiFi to accompany your drink, whether you prefer coffee or tea or a hot chocolate.
- Piquant – Just a few hundred feet from BBC, Piquant offers a French-themed breakfast of omelets, tartines & crepes & all-day menu as well as a patisserie brimming with croissants, their famous flavored “cronuts,” and varying espresso and tea beverages. The chocolate-almond croissant is a dreamy flaky concoction, especially if dipped in a cafe au lait.
- Paper Source – Not local, but lovable. The quirky, floral aesthetic of Paper Source speaks to my very heart. Their displays feature adorable greeting cards, seasonal rotations for approaching holidays (their mother’s day table has a book on the Danish concept of hygge that I’d like to pick up), wrapping paper, notebooks & stationary. If I was a scrapbooker I’d probably be in here every week.
- Blue Moon Trading Co. – The style is faintly Floridian, light-hued and airy, but rich in barn wood, metal & concrete fixtures, and I find attractive the meld put forth by Blue Moon’s furnishing and decor selection.
- Salt Pines – Salt Pines embodies sartorial southern culture. Look here for comfortable attire & outdoor gear.
- On Swann – I am enamored by the mint-green bar, menus of omnivorous shareboards and imaginative cocktails I can taste on my tongue without having actually indulged. I met the owners by accident while a friend and I photographed the exterior, prior to their grand opening, and they warmly invited us inside for a tour and an overview of their offerings. End a comfortable stay with chocolate chip cookies or fresh milk panna cotta. Seriously.
- CineBistro – This upscale diner-and-movie establishment is frequented by local athletic stars (when my sister worked here she saw Steven Stamkos more than once) and makes for a wonderful date night or special occasion outing.
- Sprinkles – Not a local business, but a visit to the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM is pleasurable and quells a nagging sweet tooth.
- Goody Goody – Highly acclaimed burger joint originating in 1925 and reopening in 2016 after around 11 years of absence. The burger POX is a must: it features their secret tomato-y sauce as well as pickles and onions. GG offers all-day breakfast and they source the eggs from Amish farms for utmost freshness.