A friend of mine once joked that he should need a passport to visit Ohio. (He lives in Florida.) At the time I sort of rolled my eyes at him and just laughed.
But it’s true. I’ve been here about a week now, and I’m feeling out of sorts and cultural shock on the scale of (almost but not quite) when I went to London. As in England.
For example, Florida drivers (on the whole) are very aggressive compared to drivers in other places I’ve lived. The closest I can compare them to is Massachusetts drivers, and (please don’t take this the wrong way, Floridians who read my blog), but there’s a reason MA drivers are referred to as “Mass-holes”. I got cut off in traffic more times hauling my very heavy trailer in the state of Florida than the whole rest of the trip combined. (That would include Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in case you were curious. And assuming my memory is accurate.)
I LOVE my GPS in my phone. I think if I didn’t have it I really would go nuts driving around in the very heavy, very aggressive traffic trying to find a grocery store, oil change place, gas station, etc.
The wildlife has taken some getting used to. Apparently it’s unwise to cut through a deadfall of trees (because of the spiders, snakes, ticks and other Florida wildlife.) Which struck me as strange ’cause I used to go tromping around in the woods in other states I’ve lived (Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire) all the time. Perhaps the weirdest part is the lizards. They’re everywhere. And they have a startle factor like mice. So although they’re not scary, per se, they do have a knack for making your heart skip a beat when they scuttle out of your line of sight or across the porch.
Here’s the most embarrassing one so far. There is an orange tree in the backyard of the house where I’m staying. I’m pretty good about knowing edible foods in the “wild” so to speak, and my philosophy is when the thing hanging on the tree is the same size, color, shape, and approximate smell of an orange, and the tree it’s hanging on looks like the groves of things you’ve been passing by for miles at a time, well, it must be an orange.
Except that it isn’t. It’s a thing called a wild lemon. And the hand squeezed juice I labored over this morning was, well, puckering. In a turn-your-face-inside-out kind of a way.
I’m sure I will learn more things about Florida as I live down here for the next several weeks. My two goals are pretty simple: I hope to not make a complete ass of myself when tripping over some local colloquialism or oddity of geography, and I hope to not get bitten by a snake. I’ve heard they have lots of them down here, and if there’s one thing that turns me into a screaming girl, it’s the sight of a snake.
Maybe I should start carrying a hoe?