By: Gabriela Yareliz
Every state has a different vibe and stereotype, right? I haven’t fully discovered New York’s identity. I’ve discovered New York City’s identity, but not the state’s. I need to spend more time outside of the city. But Florida, I know Florida well.
I stood many hours sweating at bus stops on University Ave., driving with loud music and my windows down through country roads (nature’s AC), and lying in green grass, with my backpack as a pillow, in the middle of the University of Florida campus. While many think Floridians are crazy (if you see the criminal cases that come out of the state, you might be on to something) and that we are flip flop wearing old people, well… they aren’t entirely on point. There are plenty of elderly folks who drive golf carts. The older women wear bright flowy tops, their necklines exposing rubbery tan skin speckled with sunspots, and the men with their bright polo shirts with visors and golf equipment. There are plenty of “deed” restricted communities, but there are also a lot more young families and children in Florida than what I have seen in the busy, money-making city neighborhoods. Here in the city, if you happen to see a child, he or she is accompanied by the ever-present nanny.
I took a quiz by the NYTimes where you answer questions on how you would call something or say something, and it tells you where you are from based on your vocabulary. It told me I was from Orlando, Florida, which is the closest big city to where I live. Even the New York Times knows, I am a Florida girl. To take the quiz, click here.
But what is the Florida lifestyle, according to me? I have been trying to define it for myself now that I am living in the city. Here are some conclusions I have come to: I personally do not like flip flops, I prefer Converse or gladiator sandals (that’s right–stereotype shattered). I have realized I am slower than many here in the city, but faster than many in Florida. I adore sunshine and water. I have a thing for boats. I am not afraid of bugs or snakes. I drive. For comfort, I wear jeans and cotton clothes that are not black. I miss wearing my heels because I am too petite to wear flats (as I am forced to do in the city). I like walking barefoot. I like lying on benches (in New York, there are no benches. If you happen to spot one, a homeless person has probably made it his or her home, or you have to share it with 10 other people who won’t talk to you). I like class with some attitude (being real, no pretentious weirdness a la NYC).
When I went home at the beginning of the summer, I was able to spend time with my family. Being with family is my favorite thing to do. We took a drive to Cedar Key on a Friday evening, before Sabbath. It was a lovely. Being there reminded me of everything I miss. My mother gave me an amazing camera for my birthday, and so, I wanted to share my first photos that I took during my Florida experience in May. Because Florida is not just a place; it’s an experience. Dear Florida tourism, if you are hiring–you know who to call. Right here.
I will admit, these photos make me homesick; but they also fill me with wonder, warmth and serenity.
Ultimately, there is no place like home.