Thursday, October 27, 2016

Florida Fascinates…sort of

Florida is in the news, thanks to its size, diverse population, and importance in Presidential elections. We must wait and see whether 2016 repeats the state’s election fiasco of 2000, but Florida is on our minds.

A native Floridian
My first pilgrimage to the Sunshine State occurred years ago, when eight years old. My grandparents rented an apartment for the winter in Miami Beach. Dad, Mom, my sister and I flew down to bask in the sun over Christmas break. I remember touring Monkey Jungle…I do not believe Florida confines all the monkeys to one place anymore.

A Northerner (a.k.a. hub) temporarily
enjoying Florida scenery
The years flew by and the older generation migrated south, spending their last years in the sun enjoying Southern Comfort. Apparently somewhere in the Bible it commands Northerners to sojourn in the Sunshine State before departing for heaven.

Personally I am not fond of Florida’s flat, barren landscape, but my lack of enthusiasm has not stopped thousands of retirees from moving to the state. Retirees need medical and cleaning services, stores and banks and restaurants, so other people – younger ones seeking job opportunities – follow the old folks south.

Folks journeying south include my son and his family. They relocated from the pristine climate and mountains of Colorado to the hot, sandy soil of southern Florida.

I am supposed to venture south before the kids. All the brochures and real estate seminars say so. Friends and family assume we will migrate south, but hub and I have no resettlement plans. I worry about hurricanes and floods, common Florida events. A lot of people blame climate change, but I know better.

The reason for the increase in watery saturation is the surge of people inundating the land, taking along their cars - huge weighty vehicles purchased for the trip south – their furniture and other belongings.

The state is slowly sinking under the weight of all the people, cars, golf carts, miscellaneous stuff, and dwellings.

Gated communities with European-sounding, sophisticated names spring up to house the invaders. Initially billboards announce the new community. Then heavy equipment begins moving dirt. A wall rises surrounding the development, infrastructure is buried, roads excavated and paved, and finally homes pop up amidst the dusty turmoil.

Not just any homes. Villas. Townhomes. Chalets. Estate compounds. Retirement cottages. Luxury condominium apartments. Nobody lives in a plain house anymore, at least not in Florida.

People live in places like Boynton Beach, a town without a beach, Yeehaw Junction, an exit off the highway with rest rooms, and Orlando, a city known as the theme park capital of the world. Water parks and Cinderella’s castle create a recreational landscape the world worships – non-denominational, of course – with air conditioning the preferred life force.

I feel the pull. The kids call. The grandkids beckon. The sun shines. The humidity suffocates. The heat saps all energy. Restaurants offer early bird specials. State politics and colorful politicians make front-page news entertaining outsiders.

Someday I may join the circus.

But not today.