What I’ve Learned Since Moving to Florida or How I Spent My Summer Vacation by AK Lawrence

Several months ago I spontaneously/impulsively set up living arrangements and the vague promise of a job if I moved from Michigan to a town in Florida just outside of Tampa. If you could live in my head you would know a lot of my major life decisions are made in this fashion and it tends to work for me. I have interesting stories to tell and my brain knows things even I didn’t know I knew. If you follow me.

The job proved temporary as my temperament did not mesh with the fascist dictator who ran the place. I may tell that story another time, the future is vague. My living arrangements became permanent, however, as I joined lives with a new companion and so here I sit, in sunny Florida.

I am fortunate in that my family, who remains in Michigan, miss me, love me and have the financial wherewithal to fly me back for visits on a random basis (self publishing books does not immediately reap the rewards one would have hoped and, thusly, plane tickets are not currently in the three o’clock java budget). I flew back briefly in April and I’ll be going back again this weekend for a one week stay.

Visits home are interesting. I’ve lived out of state before and have gone back for visits and the questions are generally the same.

“What’s it like there?” (hot)

“What’s the weather like?” (really hot and humid in the summer, awesome in the winter)

“What have you learned?” (Oy, where to begin!)

“How do you spend your time?” (You’re looking at it)

So, as the time of departure approaches I find myself preparing some answers in advance. As you can read above. However the What Have You Learned question had me slightly stumped.

Warning, immediate lack of segue

I was sitting on my balcony earlier, enjoying the fact that there is a nice breeze and the sun was only roasting the tops of my feet and they can handle it. My balcony receives amazing morning sun and then is shaded for the rest of the day. Depending on humidity I may spend the entire day out there with my laptop or tablet. Morning coffee with the birds singing is a beautiful thing and reminds me of my family’s cabin in Michigan. But I digress.

A new tenant of the complex was walking his barking hair mop and talking on his phone. From what I could gather, and I hate to broadcast this, but I believe he was looking for a substance that is currently illegal. Being on the second floor the young man was not aware of my presence.

After his third incorrect use of a slang word a giggle erupted from me. I have no idea where it came from and generally I try not to giggle. It just sounds insipid. I hate the word giggle. Anyone who’s read my book Freedom’s Treasure (currently available on Amazon for Kindle devices) may have picked up on that as I make fun of the word in the book. Whoops, another digression.

The young man startles, looks up at me, points to his phone and gives a sheepish grin. I nod back all Hey, man, we’ve all been there style. It was a nice reminder that, just because you’re on the phone and not paying attention, that does not mean that other people aren’t. He continues walking his barking dust mop and eventually circles back around.

“How’s it going up there?” he asks me.

“Ah, just fine. It’s a hot one. Cute dog,” I reply.

“Thanks. Not to be all up in your business but what is there to do around here?”

Alarm bells go off. I’ve lived in this area for several months officially and I don’t have an answer for this young man. Scrambling for an answer as at this point I’ve only had half of a cup of my morning java I say, “You’re looking at it.”

Yep, I said that. I’m supposed to be a writer. Words fail me in describing this epic verbal failure. I have no idea what the local attractions are. I’m assured by the local peoples that there aren’t many. The outdoor mall I was taken to was pretty cool, I’ll admit, but I haven’t checked out a gator farm or a part of the swampland that wasn’t in the backyard of my apartment complex.

I spent an evening in Tampa, at the local bars and restaurants. However I tend to discount that as the businesses we frequented have soul brothers and sisters across the country. I know as I’ve been to some of them.

So I haven’t truly seen anything unique that Florida has to offer.

Awesome. What am I going to tell the kids about when I visit? How awesome my pool is? That’s pretty lame.

And when my parent/grandparent/siblings ask what it’s like, what am I going to respond?

Well, here are a few things:

You Can Get a Cab to Deliver Almost Anything – If you are patient, can enunciate properly and have the cash you can call one of two local cab companies and have things delivered. It’s amazing really.

I don’t recommend having them go grocery shop for you, that tends to be expensive and you can’t guarantee they’ll get it right. Plus, who wants to be on the phone with a cab driver explaining exactly what item and where it’s located in the store? Having gone this route a few times I can tell you it’s not fun but it is useful.

Say it’s 1 am and you have one cigarette left for the morning. That’s going to suck! Plus, you don’t actually want to go to bed yet, you only are because you’re out of smokes or beer or whatever. Well, call your local cab company. Not only will they grab the items you need but will add other stuff while they’re at the store. Out of aspirin or Five Hour Energy? They’ll grab that, too, so long as you pay for their time and the run to your house.

The Banks Really Do Monitor Their Networks – This seems like it should go without saying but, with so many things automated these days, it should be pointed out that 24 hours a day and 7 days a week there is a physical person guarding your bank’s firewall. Yep, there’s someone sitting in front of a computer screen and making sure Chinese hackers aren’t stealing your information.

And I’m talking about the small banks as well as the big banks like Wells Fargo or Bank of America.

My companion is one of the people that guards your information. It’s a serious and stressful task. Next time you easily log on to your bank’s website and are able to view or control transactions, a little piece of your heart should be blessing them for the security they provide.

China Really is Trying to Hack the U.S. – See Above

If You Smile a Southerner Will… Do pretty much anything they can to keep you smiling. Talk about some polite people! Whew.

So yeah, I haven’t done much but I have learned some very cool things. Or, in the words of one of the cab drivers I speak with, “I learnt sumptin’!”

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