I grew up in Cooper City, Florida. The Atlantic Ocean, downtown Miami, and the Florida Keys were all less than an hour’s drive away from me. Best of all, I was just minutes away from our sacred Florida Swamp (and I mean the original Swamp, sorry Gators!).
Now, I live in Gainesville, where I am completing my bachelor’s degree in telecommunication at the University of Florida.
Jeff Klinkenberg, another Florida author whom I adore, once called me “Everglades Gal” when autographing a book I purchased from him at UF. This was funny to me, because while I lived in South Florida, I never really felt an affinity with that place, nor any gratitude for living near it. In my youthful opinion, the most exciting place nearby was Vista View park, which resided upon what looked like hopelessly flat South Florida’s highest peak. In reality it was a spruced up landfill. To me, that was the ultimate portrayal of South Florida’s suburban bleakness; it all seemed plastic.
Since moving to the north-central part of the state, I’ve missed South Florida. But, I’m lucky, because I have discovered the vast wonder within this grand ole state of mine. The bubbling springs at Silver Glenn, the serpentine nature of the Ocklawaha River, the term “y’all” (it’s brilliantly inclusive), our rich and complicated history of which I was previously unaware. In all its peculiarities and its imperfections, Florida is absolutely mesmerizing, and I will forever be in love with it.