Yes, it’s growing on me slowly… sort of like mildew.
I lived in South Florida for over 30 years. It rather defined my definition of what it meant to be a Floridian. I didn’t really need to know much more than the fact that we had orange trees and palm trees, it almost never hit a freezing point (although it did once snow for about 4 minutes during the seventies), and the first thing one noticed when the airport doors opened was the smell of exhaust and salt water. We had two seasons: hurricane season and tourist season (guess which I preferred?) and could usually wear our shorts right up to Christmas most of the time.
Then we moved to Tampa. It wasn’t by choice — my husband’s job was here.
I never paid much attention to Tampa before. Never had to. We had pretty much everything we needed and there was no need to look further. This is sort of a different version of the Little Havana syndrome. There, the entire community can be insulated from the rest of the world, with Cuban restaurants, churches, doctors and supermarkets all speaking Spanish, and some of these folks haven’t learned English in the 30 years or so they’ve been in Miami — never had to. But I digress.
I never had to pay attention to Tampa because I never had to look past my own USDA Zone 10 for anything I needed. When we moved here, I had to adjust to an entirely different sort of town, a slightly different climate, and I did not like it one bit. There are still plenty of cows here, and not nearly enough Thai restaurants. They grow strawberries here by the ton, but tomatoes are still $4 a pound. We have blazing-hot summers, but we also have nothing but sterile sand here, and none of that rich, black soil like we did back in South Florida, courtesy of the River of Grass.
In short, it’s taking a while to adjust.
However, I’m working on it. I’ve found it’s nice to have a bit of a seasonal change, even if it only means frost on the windows for 2 weeks out of the year. Plus, I’m closer to my parents in Gainesville, which is a HUGE bonus, especially because we have kids now.
And I think, maybe, I might just learn to like Tampa enough to shrug out of my prejuduce. It’s not South Florida, granted… but last time I visited, I couldn’t wait to leave. It simply didn’t “fit” me anymore.
So, Tampa and I will have a mutual adjustment period. It works for me.