There are phrases that I’m quite sure I will never utter:
- Chocolate? No thanks.
- It’s Free? Pass.
- Love the Gators. (OK, this one isn’t even funny to joke about).
I did, however, recently find myself saying something that I truly NEVER thought I would ever pronounce:
I miss Florida.
Even at a young age, I always had a plan to leave Florida just as soon as possible. BFF Dani pointed out that I wrote in her high school yearbook, circa 1981, that I would be: seeing her in DC; living in a row house in Georgetown; and working for the government. Well, I never made it to Georgetown, but the rest certainly held true.
I’m not sure why I was so hell bent on leaving the Sunshine State; maybe it was just one of those wanting to spread-your-wings/leave-the-nest sorts of things. Dani and I have both recently admitted that there are things that we actually do miss about Florida. Is it nostalgic musings, or are the observations below legit?
By the way, you might notice that Disney World is not featured on my top ten list: I’m not a Disney fan. Now, before I start getting swamped with all the hate mail, please know that I recognize that there is a cult of you out there that worship at the altar of all things Disney. Good for you; your crazy love keeps Florida from ever having to create a state income tax. I’ll spare everyone most of the details that rationalize my less than lukewarm feelings toward The Mouse. But I will leave you with this question: why is it that in almost all (I say almost because I know, I know, there is at least one exception) of Disney’s animated films Mom is dead or missing? Survey says – Hmmmm….
I miss my family. My mom, brother, uncles, and cousins all still live in Florida. I also have a large extended network of friends who live there. I miss them all. I sometimes think about how nice it was to have my grandparents so close to me growing up and how I took for granted that I could just walk to their house. There are days when I wish I could walk on over to Mom’s for dinner.
I miss the beach. There is something downright soulful about the beach. The sand, the sound of the ocean, the simple act of lying on the beach and doing nothing. In my book I have a story entitled “Flagpole” that describes what it is like to grow up near the beach. Every time I read that story I have an urge to go collect seashells.
I miss access to a warm ocean. I give this one its own ranking in the top ten. I was shocked to discover that the ocean in coastal areas north of Florida is COLD! You can’t swim in that. It’s not refreshing – it’s an ice bath.
I miss that the rain stops in less than one hour. In Florida, the rain blows in – big, blustery, heavy tropical downpours – and then it’s gone in about an hour. Your whole day does not get ruined by the weather. Today is a great example: here in Virginia it’s going to be grey and rainy and windy all day long. In Florida this mess would have cleared out by now.
I miss Publix. If you’ve never been to a Publix , you are missing out. Publix is the best grocery store food chain in the country. Alas, they are only located in the South; having gotten their start in Florida in 1930. Ya’ll need to come farther north; just sayin’.
I miss fresh fruits and veggies all year round. I absolutely took for granted that in Florida you have access to fresh produce any time of the year. The first time I ever tried to buy tomatoes in the winter in Virginia, I complained to the produce manager that they looked awful AND were $4 a pound. He looked at me and said; “You do know it’s February, right?”
I miss free tennis courts and public parks in every neighborhood. The beach is free, and so are the many courts and parks in Florida. It makes for a very wallet-friendly existence. If you’re ever in FLA, I recommend that you check out Jonathan Dickenson State Park or Dubois Park .
I miss the lizards. I bet this one seems a bit weird. But, the lizards are everywhere in Florida; and they’re kind of cool.
I miss tropical gardens. I do love my peonies and my irises and my lilies – none of which will grow in Florida. But I also miss tropical foliage too; like bougainvillea and crocus and big banyan trees.
I miss Russo’s. Last, but certainly not least, I miss Russo’s subs. Every time Mom comes to Virginia for a visit, I beg her to bring Russo’s with her. They are hands down the BEST. SUB. EVER. Don’t believe, me? Check out their Fan Page on Facebook; a near-cult following if there ever was one.