My first pilgrimage to Florida occurred when eight years old. My grandparents rented an apartment for the winter in Miami Beach, and Dad, Mom, my sister and I flew down to bask in the sun over Christmas break. I remember touring Monkey Jungle and Parrot Jungle.
I do not believe Florida confines all the monkeys to one place anymore.
The years flew by and the older generation migrated south, spending their last years in the sun enjoying Southern Comfort. This was expected, as far as I could tell. Apparently somewhere in the Bible it states that before going to heaven Northerners stopover in the Sunshine State.
I never grew fond of the flat barrenness of the Florida landscape, but my lack of enthusiasm has not stopped thousands of people from retiring to the state every year. Retirees need medical and cleaning services, stores and lots of banks and restaurants, so other people – younger people seeking job opportunities – move there also.
Which brings us to my son and his family. They relocated from the pristine climate and mountains of Colorado to the flat, 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 my husband 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 - big weighty vehicles purchased for the journey 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.
All around the state gated communities with European-sounding sophisticated names spring up daily to house the Northern invaders. First sightings are billboards announcing the new community, then heavy equipment begins moving dirt. A wall around the area springs up, infrastructure is buried below the earth, roads excavated and paved, and finally homes arise amidst the dusty turmoil.
Not just any homes. Villas. Townhomes. Chalets. Carriage houses. 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, a metropolis devoted to entertaining everyone 24/7. 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.