If you have ever had the awkward displeasure of spending any sort of time conversing with me, you would know I genuinely despise Florida. There is a litany of problems with this phallic looking state, which I would hope that if you had spent any time in Florida you yourself would already be privy to. However there is one redeeming time when Florida is bearable and this week, and the next two weeks following are it. It is fall in Florida, where the mercury colored dye in the thermostat dips below 90° for the first time of the year. Floridians do not witness any real palpable change during this time mind you; the leaves on the trees do not blush, nor do they fall to the ground despite the chilly 10 degree drop in temperature. In all, Florida Fall is the equal of a Northeastern summer- low 80’s with a near omnipresent slight breeze.
You could say I love Florida for the same reasons an octogenarian snowbird does. The weather is perfect, with little humidity and moderate temperatures which bodes well for anything outdoors. Unfortunately being a marginally successful member of society means that I am spending my time inside any interchangeable 4 walls equipped with sealed shut windows and chilled air conditioning. I am more familiar with the quiet hum of fluorescent lights than that of the silent rays of the sun; more comfortable with a monitor than with the art of billions of years of Earths development. Today, I plan on changing this.
Sadly, I live in suburbia. When I step out my back door I am not greeted with the sensations of the great enormity and beauty of the world. Instead I see a manicured lawn held up by pesticides and fertilizers- manufactured chemicals that are the only thing that keep grass alive during the unbearable heat that Florida suffers from 10 out of 12 months a year, whose production kills countless hundreds of third world inhabitants each year. Beyond the grass I see a retention pond, which made this house more expensive than my neighbors’, which holds storm water and any number of festering colonies of unmentionable creatures whose profession it seems to be that of creating abhorrent smells, and to produce more offspring to do more of the same. It seems I shall need to step a bit further out of my four walls to admire this short window of time.
I head out not precisely knowing where I should head to appropriately grasp this climate. I turn onto whatever major road is closest and head away from the center of town. The ten lanes of traffic slowly dwindles down to two, and I slowly notice a landscape reminiscent of rural Vermont- the high end on my barometer of what I would consider perfection. I find a small park and pull off the nearly desolate road to find a small field peppered with old trees and several picnic tables. Taking a seat at one of the furthest tables I take a deep breath and savor the moment. There are no cars peeling by me nor are there any lawn mowers and weed whackers impeding my interpretation of the scenery. I genuinely enjoy this small moment, this Fall in Florida, during this even tinier moment at a nondescript park in the middle of nowhere. I spend an hour here reading and doing absolutely nothing, it is a feeling beyond measure. There are no deadlines here, no projects needing immediate attention, no customers who unwittingly ruin even the best of moods, no distractions whatsoever from the untarnished glory that nature has slowly crafted over billions of years. Unfortunately time continues to tick away even in the best of moments, and life softly whispers that I must get going.
I head back to my car, still reveling in the splendor that surrounds me. I open my door and only then do I notice another car is parked by me. I look up towards the intruding car, to see that it is a large SUV, driven by an even larger woman. Her bourgenous gut unceremoniously flaps over the steering wheel, and the combination of the two support a McDonald’s Big Mac and it’s ubiquitous fries and cola. Behind her are two young boys who look similar to the driver- fast food bags in one hand, a Gameboy in the other. The mother exclaims between massive swallows of the filth called food “Isn’t this fresh air great kids?”. They mumble something indiscernible to my ears but it is clear they are not impressed. After I see and hear this exchange I see and hear something even more disturbing and pathetic. The car which somehow manages to keep the mother and sons sitting upright is still on, blowing up particles of gas, spewing hydrocarbons everywhere. The car is on, the radio noticeable, and so are the SUV’s two fans in the motor carriage telling me that the air condition is roaring even while they eat their food with the windows down. With as much disgust as any person can muster I leave the horrific scene, wholly depressed.
I have been witness to many terrible similar acts, but none so gluttonous as the one I have just managed to barely escape the feeling of uncontrollable physical disgust. The beauty of my past hour was now completely erased- how could it not be. Florida, a place where an individual can thrive and breed such as that SUV owner can earn no glory in my eyes. My expedition to discover the inspirational qualities of Florida has lead me only to see how wretched it’s inhabitants can be.