What I learned living in the Sunshine State

  1. IMG_0261
    The Driving Rumor is unquestionably true.
  2. Some people can grow accustomed to dealing with snakes and dealing with them well; most are faking it and have private meltdowns before, during, and after the confrontation.
  3. Ice is a big deal when you can count on heat and have looked in the eye of a hurricane.
  4. When Palm trees are your basic tree form everywhere, shade suffers and skin along with it.
  5. It’s easier to find sea glass in miles of sand than it is to find a four-leaf clover when you’re sitting in a grassy clover area.
  6. The fact that sea glass is findable makes it no less a joy to actually find it.
  7. Fireworks are available in surround-sound and surround-show anywhere on A1A, which runs along the Atlantic. It is a breathtaking experience worth memorizing. And I have.
  8. Time is relative on the barrier islands; shops post signs routinely saying “back in a few” which translates to “a few hours of surfing.” No one blinks. Those who want to shop there just come back later.
  9. RSVPs are fairly optional. Hedging when first given an invitation is forgiven.
  10. Those who work with preschoolers all day deserve a lot more money than they are paid. Those who make a lot more money than preschool teachers, need to spend a few days with preschoolers.
  11. Black snakes are our friends!
  12. Grief hits like waves at your feet, changing in magnitude and rising steadily before subsiding: manageable sad, sigh-worthy melancholy, hard-to-speak anger, challenging distress, worrisome despair, gigantic heartache, tsunami anguish … manageable sad. Wake, rise, walk, repeat.
  13. The best thing about Florida is not the ocean, or the heat, or the perpetual sunshine. It is the people.
  14. The worst thing about Florida is not the reptiles (though they are right up there on the list), the hurricanes, or the tourist traps. It is the people.
  15. The people in Florida are the same as people everywhere–beautiful, humble, faithful souls mixed among the angry and arrogant.
  16. Grits are good. Cheesy grits are better. Mrs. Hogan’s cheesy grits, second to none.
  17. Routines come harder in a place where the seasons do not visibly change.
  18. Children in snow states have snow days! Children in tropical places have tidepools to play in all summer long.
  19. Key West is worth the trip.
  20. People in Florida have swimming pools like people in the Midwest have snow shovels and rakes.
  21. There is an unwritten code among beach-walkers:
  • Talk is optional.
  • A nod is as good as a wave.
  • Clarity comes with every footprint left in the sand.

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