It occurs to me that I trash-talk Florida quite a bit in this blog. I never thought I’d say this, but there are things I miss about the Sunshine State. After all, I lived there for 40 years. Granted, I spent most of those years trying really hard to get the hell out of there, but you can’t stay in a place that long without it making some sort of an impression on you.
Obviously, I knew I’d miss people. In fact, I miss quite a few of them. But things? That surprised me.
In terms of food, I miss really good tomatoes, and bananas that actually have flavor. God, do I ever miss decent fried chicken. People out here have no idea.
I miss the Historic Riverside neighborhood of Jacksonville, with its granite curbs and prairie style homes. I miss the Riverside Arts Market, and the garden of the Cummer Museum, where I used to go on free Tuesday evenings to read a book under the gigantic live oak tree. (Although it appears that the garden was extensively damaged by a hurricane and is closed until further notice. That breaks my heart.)
I miss lazy days in Willowbranch Park. I also miss the grand old, oft overlooked Treaty Oak. I miss the winter Luminaria, when my whole neighborhood would light up with candles. I miss the occasional visit to historic St. Augustine.
I miss working at the Ortega River Bridge, with its spectacular view, and the fact that it was only about 4 miles from my house. What a heavenly commute that was! I miss the night heron and the gator that used to keep me company. (I don’t miss the pay, the immoral management, or being pelted with eggs, though.)
I definitely miss the house I used to own there, even though it was falling apart. By now, I’d have had it all paid off. I can’t even imagine what that must feel like. It was big, and had a working fireplace, and a park right across the street, and a great back yard. The public library was a half block away.
I miss the slower pace, and the open, friendly vibe. You don’t get those things in Seattle. But I don’t miss the incessant heat or the conservative politics.
I miss lizards and skinks. I didn’t expect to miss lizards and skinks. I miss fireflies. I miss the birdsong. (The birds sound great out here, too, but very different, so it always reminds me that I’m in a foreign place.) You can keep the snakes, scorpions, cockroaches, and spiders, though.
I long to be able to swim in the ocean again without freezing my patooties off. I miss soft, sandy beaches. I miss inner tubing down the Ichetucknee River while school is still in session so I have the place to myself. I miss swimming with manatee and dolphins. I miss having my sister only a 4 hour drive away, and the Blue Ridge Mountains only a day away.
I miss the powerful, frog-choking, thunder-laden rainstorms, as long as I was safe inside. They’d get it out of their system and then go on about their business, allowing me to go about mine. None of this lingering for months on end and quietly spitting at you. I miss the sunrises and sunsets. I do not, however, miss the hurricanes or tornadoes.
So yeah, I guess Florida isn’t all bad. If I could make the same money I make in Seattle and have my Florida cost of living, I’d be, as they say, in high cotton. But would I ever live there again? I’ve learned to never say never, but I will say that I sure hope not. I’d miss even more about the Pacific Northwest.
I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that? http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5