Florida is weird.
(Bear and I, at this little fast food waffle place, where a lot of stuff on the menu cost a dollar. Imagine that!)
Who looked at the endless stretches of flat swamp and thought to build houses? There’s a highway that everyone calls Alligator Alley. There are signs along paths that say “look out for snakes” and Bear’s uncle reports, in a satisfied tone, as though proud of the Everglades, that there have been python sightings in the neighborhood.
But I don’t see any of these threatening, alien animals. Everything looks clean and recent– as though all of these houses and shopping centers were built two years ago. Just enough time for the huge, strange, tropical plants to grow in around them.
There is a mango tree AND a banana tree in the yard of the home where Bear’s grandmother lives with her daughter and her daughter’s husband. Right now his grandmother is there, and so is a different son, who is also always visiting. The family is hard to keep track of. They’re back and forth, it seems, between Ohio and here. The other two who usually live in the house are in Ohio now. We will be in Ohio ourselves in two days. I’ve never been there, even though my brother Jake goes to conservatory in Cleveland (where he has been robbed twice; once at knifepoint).
I have been to Florida, but when I was much, much younger, and one of my main memories is of running back to the hotel to get a towel and then returning to find an alligator blocking the path to the pool, where my family was. Because I couldn’t be separately from my family, I was willing to risk death. I ran around its tail, as fast as I could. It didn’t move. I was a hero. My parents didn’t think I was a hero. They thought it had been a bad idea.
In Florida, it’s confusing how people and nature interact. The burrowing owls sit on an empty lot in the development that they have claimed as their own. There is a little fence around them, and a sign that explains what they are, with a picture of an owl that looks just like them on it. They look a little perplexed, perching there, in the middle of this stucco, pastel neighborhood. The houses look a little confused as well. As though we’re all still learning how to interact with one another.
I got a funny feeling as we drove to Marco Island from the airport. I had this very unoriginal thought: everywhere you go, there are people, living out whole lives there. I suddenly wanted to know all of their stories. Have they always lived here? Did they just move here? Why? Do they like it? And how would everything be different for them if they lived in Manhattan, like me?
(I tried to get the classic shot. The sun obliged me)
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Un-roast: Today I love the way I look when it’s humid. My skin feels like it looks like it’s glowing. That may in fact not be true.
P.S. Of course, the touchpad has stopped working on my laptop again. It happened just as I was packing it to leave yesterday, so I brought a big, clunky mouse along. This computer is still new, and so far, the touchpad has quit on me five or six times. It also shuts down randomly and for a few weeks, the brightness setting for the screen was stuck on low, until I realized something was terribly wrong. That is not a metaphor for my mind. Anyway, the point is, things are constantly going wrong. And I’m writing all of this in the hopes that Dell is reading it. Dell– This blog has many thousands of readers (that’s for real! How awesome is that?)! I’m a very powerful person (that’s considerably less for real). I might be a very powerful person one day. You should send me a new computer, because this one is terrible and shameful and you should be really embarrassed.
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