#Florida, Man…

And a happy new year to all. Welcome to 2015, folks. The year of flying cars and hoverboards. Robert Zemeckis owes us an explanation.

The last three weeks have been spent in the lush, green, mystical land known as Gainesville, Florida. Being from Seattle, visiting (what I consider to be) the deep south requires a bit of a cultural adjustment. I have a feeling Floridians would be miffed at the idea of being considered a part of the “I do declare, Miss Scarlett” demographic, but meh. ‘Ts what ’tis.

In my three weeks here, I’ve found myself taking note of the distinct differences between circumstances here versus their counterparts at home.  Some items of note:

  1. People here are nice.  As in genuinely, pleasantly, amazingly, cordial-level nice.  They are so nice that when I return to Seattle, everyone will be utter and complete assholes by comparison.
  2. People walk *very* slowly here.  This I find to be simultaneously frustrating and admirable – I think all of us could benefit from slowing down a bit.  Life is way too hurried these days.  At least mine is.
  3. You can buy as many fireworks as you want on New Year’s Eve.
  4. Helmets are not required by law for cyclists nor mopeds.  Initially I reacted with concern, as in, “they’re going to be fined!” until it was explained to me that in Florida, people are permitted to exercise free will.  No one died (in my observation), and I also noticed that fewer (i.e., zero) people wore helmets when not mandated by law.  Seattle, you are the helicopter parent of the northwest.
  5. Motorists on the freeway have learned how to drive expeditiously and rapidly in a cooperative, cohesive fashion.  The same volume of cars on the freeways from Tampa to Gainesville would have, in Seattle, resulted in a four-mile backup and droves of WSDOT tweets.  In Florida?  Everyone sailed along at the same pace like a school of fish.  Smooth like buttah.  Again, Seattle: take note.
  6. The public transit system does, however, leave little to be desired.  I did note that several buses advertised “Walmart” as their main destination selling point and that Walmart did indeed have several bus stops dedicated to transporting people from BFE to lower prices.  Another phenomenon I witness was that, much like the S.L.U.T. in Seattle, Sarasota is not without its own embarrassing naming conventions.  
  7. Recycling:  Unlike the totalitarian recycling regime adopted by the northwest, Florida rarely has recycling bins and if they do, they don’t have the recycling police rummaging through your refuse in an attempt to fine you for some compostable indiscretion.  Again, metropolitan helicopter parenting.
  8. Lizards:  There are many.  They are adorable.  I did manage to catch one, but he opted for a suicide attempt instead of embarking on our burgeoning friendship.  Sad.
  9. Humidity.  I hates it.
  10. Blue Bell Ice Cream:  Oh dear universe thank you for having this sweet, sweet bit of high school nostalgia available to me for the holidays…
  11. THIS is not Christmas weather.  =/  
  12. Thunderstorms.  Never do I sleep as well.  
  13. I have no idea what these bugs are.  All I know is that my first impulse was to KILL THEM WITH FIRE!!  
  14. God is big here.  Like, huge.  During our stay in St. Augustine, while in the hotel, 75% of all stations on the television were some sort of evangelical programming.  En route to aforementioned St. Augustine, we passed a sign that read, “Welcome to Hastings:  where GOD is GOD and SIN is SIN.  In other words – “we’re watching you…”
  15. The University of Florida is Gainesville.  Everything is Gator-related.  Half the town is hosed in blue and orange.
  16. License plates:  Never have I seen a state with more specialty license plates.  I honestly don’t know how the police keep track.  

That’s all I have for now.  I’m fairly certain more will occur to me on the plane.  It’s been a nice break from the insanity of Seattle, and spending time with my boyfriend and his siblings and their kids and their dogs and their friends has been much needed and appreciated.  I don’t often take vacations and often forget how much a reboot is needed from time to time.  I’m taking notes.  🙂

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