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….
Top Ten Things I Miss About Florida
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.
How about you? Are there things you miss about where you grew up? Did you move away, or did you stay put?
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laurie b saysOctober 2, 2012 at 7:19 am
I love your story! I always wanted to leave Florida, even once attempting to move to Atlanta to "start a new life", that lasted a week. I married a guy from Pittsburgh always thought we didn't give our children a fair chance at life by not moving "home" But for the most part our jobs and the economy here was always better than there and then there was the thought of leaving the beach… just couldn't do it (and Russo's!) How could I trade11.5 months of sun and beautiful weather for 4 months of ice, sleet, snow, ice and being more than a full days drive away from salt water? I love Florida although, I still wouldn't mind a change or a winter of snow – just to see what we are missing 🙂 .
Kim D saysOctober 2, 2012 at 11:21 am
Well Laurie, regarding the weather, I have a saying: you don't have to shovel humidity! The snow is pretty until it's turns into the barrier to getting out of your driveway. Son is considering UPitt for grad school: maybe your husband can give him some pointers for cool places to live, eat and drink!
Thanks for stopping by.
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Kim D saysOctober 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm
Hey there "About Dogs." Just read your post about St. Bernards – loved it! Always wondered about their history.
I guess you could say that the theme of this blog is "reflections from the middle-aged cheap seats". I tend to blog about issues, themes or ideas that are relevant to us "ladies of a certain age." Kids, husbands, menopause, tequila, you know, the important stuff! 🙂
Jean saysSeptember 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago and moved away when I was 17, to join the Marine Corps. The thing I miss most is my family, immediate and extended. I miss the holidays, the birthdays, and just knowing that they are close. I missed being home while my sister was sick with cancer and not being able to be there to sit with her and help her when she needed it. Sure I sent a ton of cards and called a lot, but its not the same as being there. That being said, I could never imagine moving back. My home is in Georgia now, its where my grown kids and grandson live.
Kim D saysOctober 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm
Jean, I can definitely understand the appeal of Georgia and being close to the kids and the grand kids. My son was home from college just this past weekend (along with 14 of his closest friends!) and I loved having him and his friends here.
Debbie Kesley saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm
I moved away for 8 months and I have to say that as much as I totally loved living in California but I did miss several things about "The South". I really do not have a 'State' to call my own but I am a Southern born and Southern bred. I missed my grown kids, my dear friends, my home away from home which is where I went to dance called Cowboys. I missed going from the winter months to the summer months. I missed the mountains and the variety of trees too.
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm
Thanks for stopping by Debbie and sharing some of your southern gal thoughts!
Nathalie Villeneuve saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm
Great post Kim, Now I miss Florida too…LOL …actually you reminded me of some the things we heard from my parents, aunts and uncles when they came back from their many trips to Florida. As a young girl from snowy Quebec, I envy you…I use to dream about going to Florida with them. They left us home…I wonder why….(wink) Anyway there are some things I miss from Canada and maybe I should write about that. Great share, I really enjoyed it 😉
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 8:10 pm
Nathalie – I would love to hear/read your Canada musings.
Better yet: what would one of your paintings look like if you channeled Canada??
Emma-Louise Elsey saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Lovely post Kim! I can really resonate with missing the lizards, We have mini-tree frogs here (lots) and if we ever moved away I would MISS Them!!!
I have moved from England to Canada and miss Pubs, horses and cows roaming everywhere (I'm from the New Forest) and I miss oak trees… And that's just 3 (not including friends and family!).
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm
Wow, England to Canada – that is quite a move! I'm sure they have pubs in Canada, but I know they are probably not the same. Thanks for stopping by.
Vicki saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Loved this blog. Never say never..but I seriously doubt you would ever return to Fl. to live. After 70 yrs. of being a native, I can't imagine uprooting, but you never know…you may have to boot me out of your new lake house! We would have to have Russos shipped.
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm
Howdy Vicki – come on up – please remember the Russo's; and how about some Bud's chicken too?!! 😉
Suzanne saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 11:47 am
I can relate to several "missings" you talk about. I am originally from Southern California and I can relate to missing the fresh fruit and vegetables almost year-round. My dad has an amazing garden that is always going off. However, I love my home of 18 years in Boise, Idaho because of the 4 seasons, down-to-earth people and accessible open space land. Ahhhhh, momories.
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm
Boise is on my list of places to visit. May be looking to you for a list of top ten things to do in Idaho!
Lesa saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 11:34 am
I grew up in the Seattle area and live there now, but I haven't always. I spent a year in Minnesota living with my grandparents while my grandmother was sick — my mom expected me to miss the ocean, but what I missed was the mountains! In Seattle, we sit between two large mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades. So, no mater which way you look, there's a mountain to be seen. In Minnesota, they have no mountain ranges at all and the state is so flat they call large hills mountains! I think it is good to leave the area where you grew up — even if only for a short time — so that you can learn to appreciate it in a new way. it is so easy to take for granted what we see every day.
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm
I have a cousin who grew up with me in FL, but has now lived in Seattle most of her adult life – LOVES it! It is a beautiful city. Thanks for stopping by today.
Sabine Panneau saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 11:14 am
I love your post! I haven't lived in my own country for the last 15 years, let alone my own region (Brittany, on the West coast of France) and I can relate to your story. As a teenager, I could not wait to go away… not so sure why but I knew I had to go. And now I go there every couple of years, for a short visit and I really miss the sea, the beach, the food, the culture, etc…Although I know I could not live there for a long time, the weather and winters would be to hard for me…I got to love the heat and nearly all year round summer!
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm
Sabine, it sounds like to live in a remarkable part of the world. Will certainly be jealous come February (not a fan of shoveling snow here in VA). Thanks for stopping by and sharing.
Maureen saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 10:40 am
It's amazing how much my story mirrors yours. I left West Palm Beach in 1974 for Washington, DC. I have lived in the metro area since then. I love it here but have to admit that there are things that I miss about Florida. You mentioned the beach, warm ocean waters, the afternoon showers and of course Russo's. All of those are on my list too. In addition I miss the warm breeze from the ocean or the inter-coastal on a summer evening. The smell of night blooming jasmine and the smell of salt air can not be replicated.
As an aside, after 15 years of vacationing with friends on the NC Outer Banks, I finally cried uncle. Who wants to spend a week on a beach where the water is too cold for even your toes. We now drive an additional hour to Carolina Beach, NC. The water temp. is between 82 -85 degrees. No, it's not beautiful clear water but at least I can close my eyes and believe I am back home.
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:33 pm
Thanks for the tip about there being "tolerable" ocean water in Carolina Beach, NC. Will have to check it out. I graduated from Twin Lakes HS in !181 – how about you?
Gordon saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 10:23 am
Disney duck wears no pants probably a flasher at best a duckofile at worst. Florida is chock full of geriatric drivers (more every day) who also clog the aisles at the local Publix reminiscing with their soon to be deceased friends.Florida much more likely to be hit by devastating hurricane than Tombstone Arizona. And biggest problem of all — lazy manatees.
Kim D saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 1:31 pm
Gordon – thank you for reminding me of the manatees! Almost as cool as the lizards. And dare I say that the Florida drivers are no worse than what we've got here in VA – just sayin'!
marquita herald saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 9:57 am
Great article – I'm originally from So. Calif. and I've returned from time to time to visit family and friends – so I can truthfully say there is not ONE single thing I miss about living there! On the other hand, when I left CA I moved to Maui which is where I've now lived most of my life. For awhile I became obsessed about moving back to 'the world' and because I worked in the travel industry I was able to scout out various potential new homes on the mainland. I always returned to my Island so happy to be home. Eventually I figured it out – this IS my home and where I belong!
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 10:08 am
Love to hear about how your new home IS your home! I'm well rooted in VA; don't think I would ever move back to FLA – but I've learned that in my life I shouldn't rule anything out.
I bet Maui is amazing – when can we come visit? 🙂
Eduardo saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 9:45 am
Georgia has Krogers too. they are almost the same Publix that is, but I think Krogers is cheaper and they have the two for one that really gets me going…
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 9:48 am
Oh, it would be difficult for me to pass up any 2-4-1 deals!!
Rachel saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 9:31 am
I love your article. I, however, never left Silver Spring, MD which is where I grew up. In fact, once I got divorced, I moved back into the very house I grew up in. I stayed PUT!! 🙂 Anyway, I miss Florida, because yearly, that becomes my home. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, Disney World, thanks to my girls. They're teenagers now, but we still love Disney!! I guess I'm part of the cult!! LOL!!
Well, stay fabYOUlous!!
Kim Dalferes saysSeptember 21, 2012 at 9:41 am
There is something lovely and "full-circle" about moving back into the house you grew up in. Recently, it looked like my grandmother's house was going to come onto the real estate market and my family was clamoring to try and buy it! It didn't work out, but it did show me how powerful our childhood memories and longings can be. I envy your homestead – thanks for sharing.