An Ode to Florida

What does it mean to be a Floridian? When people ask me where I’m from, I always say Florida with a bit of a reluctant shrug, or a comment like, ‘but it’s way shittier living there than you would imagine.’ And yet, somedays, I yearn for Florida so desperately that I want to book a ticket home. 

 I'm a natural born beach bum

I crave the oppressive humidity and heat, so thick you feel like you are swimming down the driveway when you go to get your mail. I miss the hilarity of having to stop your car for a gator crossing, the thrill of crawling army style through the mangroves to avoid the Coast Guard, who caught you drinking illegally on the beach at night. I miss the wacky headlines, the sound of palm trees rustling, the smell of the ocean and chlorine and spray tans. I miss indulging in some beers and smokes with my friends on a patio, and the laughably cheap lunch buffets for snowbirds. I miss cutting open coconuts from my backyard next to the pool. I miss wearing barely there clothes and finding lizards in my shower and stepping over snakes. I miss racing against the sun to eat a popsicle, taco stands, and fresh orange juice. I miss having a drawer full of bikinis, and my car floor always an inch deep in sand. I miss the pink sunsets and afternoon thunderstorms. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Sanibel Island. Perpetual sunburns. South Beach. Weeki Wachee and Blue Springs. Hurricane parties and stringing up a hammock between two palm trees in my backyard. 

Growing up in Florida means Disney World foam parties

Is there a part of me that belongs in a Key West style tiki bar with Jimmy Buffett playing in the background? I rejected Florida so strongly growing up, but now as an adult I see that I can't even imagine living somewhere with snow, or seasons in general. Mountains are unsettling to me, as are earthquakes and two story houses. And why on Earth would anyone ever need an attic, basement, or fireplace?!

My favorite used book store in Fort Myers, FL

Being from Florida has really shaped who I am as a person in indescribable ways. As much as I hate some aspects of life there, and have been known to call it the ‘cultural blackhole where America  goes to die,’ I still can’t help but miss it. I probably identify more as a Floridian than as an American. How about you, dear readers? To what extent has your childhood home shaped your personality?

Walking Dead on Fort Myers Beach

Comments

  1. I think it's like Henrik Ibsen talking about Norway, it really takes distance to understand what your situation growing up was like. When you are young everything is normal and good then you become a teenager and get a taste of the wider world and grow bitter at your limited circumstance, then you either stay near by or leave.

    If you leave, like we both have, a strange thing happens you get perspective on your childhood, you see the good, (it's really hard to reminisce about the bad in my experience). There is a great story that I resonate with, it's main theme is "the bread where I grew up tastes the best" http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/09/06/040906fa_fact1?currentPage=all

    A person uses the "lens" that they have acquired through experience to view the world, but they are often unaware of the lens until it's shaken a little bit.

    Example: If Obama was the president of Kenya, he would be their first white president.

    Perspective changes everything, and you can only get perspective at a distance.


    So like Ibsen you need to live in Germany to really gain an appreciation for what you experienced in in Norway.

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    Replies
    1. That was a great article! I think most people do stay where they grew up, and while I am sometimes jealous at how simple and content their day to day lives might be, it's also obvious that they are missing out on something. I'd trade routines for adventures any day. Who knows though, my mindset could change in the future.

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