Florida is weird. Like, as a whole, the state is weird. I've been saying this for years (and years) and then everyone else seemed to catch on.
Click here for Fake or Florida Video that I could not get embedded into this post!
At the same time, I feel a little protective of my dear ole Florida. It's kind of like how you can say certain things about your best friend, but if someone else says the same thing it's not okay and you want to punch them in the throat. That got violent. Sorry.
I'm a Florida native, and although I now reside in Alabama, Florida will always be my place. It'll always be my home state, my roots, and my weird little place of happiness.
It's so crazy that Jason and I both were raised in Florida beach towns. They're not close together AT ALL, but it definitely helps us understand each other.
Since we've spent most of this week in Florida, first a day in Destin with my family and then several days in Amelia Island for Jason's work trip, that soft spot in my heart for this odd state has been kindled. In fact, we've spent more time in Florida this year than I have since the summer before my senior year of college. CRAZY! I'm ready more than ever to take on Seth Meyers and stand up for my home state! Ya ya (fist pump emoji)!
That's a joke, Florida is bizarre. But, I love it.
In appreciation of my home state, I've come up with several observations that I want to share with you about this weird, beautiful, insane place:
- Wildlife is literally everywhere. I'm not big on nature, but Florida wildlife is something different. Between alligators, sharks, fish, birds, cranes, turtles, snakes, crabs, and mosquitoes, Floridians are surrounded by wildlife basically 100% of the time. You can't escape it, but who would want to? I've spent many nights on the beach with a flashlight hunting for crabs with my sisters. Good times. Except for the sharks and gators and mosquitoes, I can definitely live without those. And snakes. I can live without snakes. But all of this crazy wildlife is part of what makes Florida crazy and unique, and crazy unique.
- The scenery is out of control, in the best possible way. You can go from treelined streets of mossy canopies to palm trees and coconuts in a matter of seconds. If you don't know what I'm talking about look up pictures of St. Augustine, FL. It's the epitome of beautiful and has a crazy diverse landscape.
- The size of Florida is astounding. Florida could be divided into 3-4 separate states and no one would ever know the difference. I grew up in Northwest Florida. Jason grew up in Central Florida - Atlantic side. His dad lives in Central Florida - Gulf side. Then there's Miami. Jacksonville and Tallahassee are in there somewhere. Oh and Orlando too, with it's Disney and Harry Potter loving fans. Each of these places is completely different. We talk different, eat different, have opposite political views, but we're all one big, beautiful, culture-rich state. I do love the diversity, but it is a little strange that my parents would have to drive the same distance to get to Miami (same state) and Greensboro, NC (four states away).
- Tourism is everything to Floridians. As previously mentioned, Jason and I both grew up in the thriving beach metropolises of Destin, FL and Daytona Beach, FL. Both of our hometowns are extremely dependent on tourism! We're both accustomed to terms like "Snow Birds" and "seasonal hours," and that's not the same thing as "Holiday Hours" at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many restaurants and stores in my hometown will close several days a week or have "off-season" hours when things are slow and it's not Summer or Spring Break. I've seen families in complete despair when the economy took a turn for the worse and people didn't spend money to vacation. I've seen families thriving over "good years" when traffic was awful and beaches were full. Thank you for loving my hometown and continuing to visit. You truly do make a difference and there really are people who depend on you to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.
- The beauty never gets old. Florida is beautiful. From white sandy beaches and green water of the Emerald Coast to the rolling hills and farmland of inland towns. From the Everglades National Park to white-capped waves of the Atlantic. There is no doubt that this is a beautiful state. And it truly never gets old. Residents may complain about the three T's: traffic, toll roads, and taxes, but I bet anyone you ask who calls Florida their home will tell you that they never get tired of the glorious paradise that is Florida.
Tomorrow we'll pack our bags and head back to Alabama and I will be sad. I don't know if I'll ever call Florida my actual home again, but this wacky state will always have a piece of my heart. It's been a blast to spend time here this week, and I look forward to our next visit.
But seriously, don't mess with me, Florida. I know your crazy antics and I will have none of it.