One of my best friends was born and raised in Michigan, and moved to Florida as a teenager. She remained here until about a year ago, when she, her husband, three kids, and her parents all picked up and moved to Illinois. We were talking on the phone last night, and she was listing all of the things that her kids are getting to do now, that she got to do as a kid, that they couldn’t do in their neighborhood down here. Things like riding their bikes all over their neighborhood, catching lightning bugs, sleeping with their windows open, playing in the neighbor kids’ pool, and all the joys of a small town Midwestern childhood that might be available somewhere in Florida – but not here.
However – it snowed several inches in their town on April 28. Ack.
The first time I came to Florida as an adult, I left Pittsburgh, PA in a February snowstorm and arrived in Ft. Lauderdale in what felt like summer to me. That was 25 years ago, and I still clearly remember the feeling of walking off the plane onto the ramp and feeling the thick, warm, humid air settle over me like a hot, damp blanket. As I know now, it really wasn’t all that warm – probably in the mid-60’s – but compared to Pittsburgh it felt like a tropical paradise.
On April 28 of this year, while it was snowing in Illinois, I was sitting on the balcony of a hotel in St. Pete, in shorts and a T-shirt, drinking a glass of wine and watching the sun set into the Gulf. Mmmmm.
I had a carefree small-town childhood too, and I do miss seeing lightning bugs. I also miss normal grass, and forsythia and tulips and crocuses, and the fall colors.
But I do NOT miss driving on ice, or endless days of leaden gray skies in winter, or the possibility of getting snow in April.
I love sleeping with the windows open in the winter, and hibiscus and bougainvillea, and the grapefruit that my next door neighbor grows, and being able to see the ocean from my front yard, and the smell of the ocean, and sandpipers and seagulls and pelicans, and driving home over the Intracoastal every evening with the boats at the marina below me and the ocean in front of me.
We have a lot of big problems in Florida, but it’s the little pleasures that make living here worthwhile.