It should not be surprising that when I was considering where to go to college some 40 years ago, Florida was at the top of my list. After all, I grew up in a tropical country where “cold” was anything below 65 and “freezing” was anything below 50. I had never experienced snow. Nor did I want to…
Never having been to the United States, I had to rely on “reputation.” And the state with a reputation that appealed to me was…Florida. The land of sun, sand and surf. Just like the Philippines!
And so I ended up in the Sunshine State. On the Suncoast of the Sunshine State, a/k/a Tampa Bay. Florida Presbyterian (now Eckerd) was at the southern end of Pinellas County, which is a peninsula on a peninsula. The western and southern portions of the college bordered the water.
But even the Suncoast winters were too cool for me. So what did I do? Why, move north, of course. To Gainesville, home of the University of Florida… Gator Country. I didn’t live there long but long enough to see ice and a snow flurry or two. WTF?
My problem with Hogtowne, as I understand it was once called, is that the city revolves around the University. If you’re not a student or otherwise associated with UF, there is not much of another professional class. Nor am I comfortable around talking heads whose lives are based on theory. There is only one reason for theory – to act upon it and change the world! (And since I’m now too old for the latter, I have no use for the former.)
A friend suggested I’d like where her parents lived – Tallahassee. Yes, there were not one but two state universities. However, they were balanced by the fact that it is also the State capital. So there’s a large professional class not associated with the universities.
Coincidentally, my Master’s is in Public Administration. So if I want to work in my field, what better place than the political center of the state?
Consequently, I moved to Tallahassee in 1981. And because of my job, I still live in…Tallahicky.
Now, Tallahassee is about 125 miles northwest of Gainesville. So I’m going north again. Towards the snow! But 125 miles can’t be that much colder, can it?
Oh yes it can! I’ve experienced many freezing days in this part of the Sunshine State. It isn’t as bad as the Midwest or the Plains, but cold is expected in those places. We do not expect cold in Florida! Folks move to Florida for the sunshine, as I did.
Last week, we had two back to back days of freezing. Tuesday was in the 20s! If anyone had warned me that I’d see 20s in Florida, I’d have gone to college somewhere else. Like Las Vegas.
I still do not understand why Vegas was not on my radar in 1970. By that time, I’d been going to the illegal Manila casinos for a good two years. Vegas has sun. Vegas has sand. Vegas has surf, even if only in hotel pools.
Plus, Vegas has a huge Filipino population. Which means, there’s Filipino restaurants, grocery stores, etc. It’s a mini-Philippines in the U.S.
Sometime in 2013, between March and September, I’ll not be working anymore. I’ll be able to live where I want. Maybe I’ll go “home”…to Vegas. Assuming I don’t go to a Third World country.