A Love Letter to Florida
Florida, you know I love you.
But I can’t do this anymore. This time I’m really leaving you.
I know it’s not the first time I’ve said it I’m going for good… First College. Then an overseas job. Then a near runaway life in Italy… And still there was you, shadowing the chapters of my life with your omnipresence.
But I can’t keep you as this dysfunctional placeholder any longer. I refuse to keep toying with you this way, telling you I’m never coming back and then returning once more. I hate my fickleness. I loathe myself each time I spit the names of other lovers in your face –“Portland! Seattle! New York! San Francisco!”
I’ve settled for the safeness of you, but now I’m getting itchy feet again. I’ve refused permanence for so long, avoiding all signs of commitment—a house, a job, a boyfriend, a dog. No one will be hurt, a clean break. But I cannot do this any longer..
I cannot wake up one more day in a damp sweat, hot and sticky from your swampy grasp.
I cannot take another cold shower just to get through another one of your long, unbearable summer days.
I cannot sit one more second in the traffic on your Interstate, watching the heat bubble off cars like a mirage.
I cannot drive by another soul standing roadside in insufferable heat holding signs—“cash 4 gold.”
I cannot look at another row of homes painted Pepto shades of pastels, crammed up next to each other like a garish cartoon.
I cannot smile as another out-of-towner who asks “What is it like to live in ‘The Happiest Place on Earth,’” as if I live in Cinderella Castle itself.
I cannot run from one more cockroach skittering around unpredictably and suddenly taking flight!
I cannot hunker indoors, trying to escape your mosquitos and their incessant hum.
I CANNOT STAND YOU. Goodbye.
That was harsh. I’m sorry….I didn’t mean it.
You are the long-term relationship I cannot shake. I seem to always return, and you are always waiting: reliable, predictable, there for me when I need you in times of rest and respite. I suppose we’ll always be bound by a complicated history we can’t shake…And of course I could never forget—some of my fondest memories have you as my backdrop.
You’re where the rumble of distant thunder lulled me to sleep while Cuban frogs called to each other outside my window.
You’re where my sisters and I slurped Fudgesicles on the driveway on hot summer nights. The frozen treats melting down our hands while our giggles danced down the block.
You’re where February tastes of fresh strawberries. Where I learned to leap berry flats in a single leap while romping U-pick fields as a girl.
You’re where Summer smells like churned-up algae and the sour scent of gasoline. Where ski-boats skim the placid surface of your lakes and herald in the start of another long leisure season.
You’re where I splashed around in the gutters after Summer thunderstorms, catching fat tadpoles and racing them down our street.
You’re where Spring smells like grass clippings and Orange Jessamin, a cloying combination that sits heavy in the air like syrup.
You’re where I ran around as a child capturing slow brown lizards and hanging them from my ears like an Amazonian princess.
You’re where I learned to canoe; where the long, sad fingers of Spanish Moss brushed my head as I became an explorer among your canals.
You’re where I have always returned after epic adventures—to MCO: the familiar airport, its retro carpet, and the tram ride I know so well.
Florida, you caught my first tear in your sandy dirt. You saw my first kiss in that steamy asphalt lot…
I love you Florida.
I also love to hate you. I can’t understand it. It’s complicated. They say that is Love.
You will always be a home for me. But perhaps you are not the home for me.
I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll see each other. But for now, it’s goodbye.