Goodbye (for now) to Florida

Goodbye to ibis. Goodbye to the Gulf of Mexico. Goodbye to alligators and armadillos. Goodbye to drive-through liquor stores. Goodbye to people dressed in suffocating costumes dancing on street corners in 95 degrees just to get one more driver to stop and buy stuff at a store in a strip mall. Goodbye to daily thunderstorms. Goodbye to smiling clerks and servers. Goodbye to the host at the gate to my friend’s apartment complex who asked me, “You all fixin’ to have some fun?” and laughed when I said, “It could happen.” Goodbye to Winn-Dixie, one of the only places where the clerks don’t always smile. Goodbye to Publix, where everyone seems genuinely happy. Goodbye to traffic jams on I-75. Goodbye to the giant confederate flag on I-75, the one that embarrasses us all. Goodbye to year-round porch-sitting. Goodbye to royal palm trees, still exotic to me after five years. Goodbye to Sandhill cranes in the mall parking lot. Goodbye to black widow spiders. Goodbye to cigar-sized grasshoppers. Goodbye to so many people I love. Goodbye to the places I didn’t love, like Bruce B Downs north of Fowler. Goodbye to my best excuse for using “y’all.” Goodbye to TPA, the easiest and most efficient airport I’ve ever been to. Goodbye to socklessness. Goodbye to the ubiquitous palmetto bugs and their ilk. Goodbye to hurricanes. Goodbye to the anoles my dog loves to chase. Goodbye to shorts worn with Ugg boots. Goodbye to decent iced tea served everywhere. Goodbye to the zebra longwing butterflies that liked the passion flower vine I planted. Goodbye to bringing a sweater to restaurants in the summer, and not in the winter. Goodbye to the voluptuous smell of gardenia and the velvet-heavy scent of jasmine. Goodbye to pelicans. Goodbye for now, Florida. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…

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