I left Florida six years ago for Colorado. I didn’t entirely want to go. If I could have had quality public schools, a mostly Democratic state government, and medical marijuana without leaving home, I’d never have come to the mountains. I’m learning to like it here, but it is an effort and a process. It’s still not my home.
Home is where the Gulf is, where sea grapes and mangroves dip their alien roots in slow moving rivers and manatees and dolphins swim. It’s where the ocean meets the sand, where waves shape the shore, where my heart sings. Home is where the air is salty and thick with humidity.
I miss the rain and how it smelled musty and floral, and warm sunny January days. I miss knowing the layout of my city as if it was written in my bones, instead of always feeling half lost. I miss the woods and creeks I used to play in. I miss palms and cypress and banyans. I miss how green it was.
Home is where the beach is a pastel rainbow of cocina shells, where a miniature sized city teaches toddlers about their world, where big cats get rescued. It’s where green mosses cover rocks and trees, and every inch of the earth is alive. Home is where the rivers, bays, and intercoastal are. It’s where there’s plenty of oxygen down at sea level.
I miss roadside tourist attractions and fresh fish caught daily. I miss docks and piers and boats, miss seeing water everyday. I miss the Hillsborough River, the Evergreens, the nature preserves. I miss the birds, more varieties than I even knew, and I miss gardenias and hibiscus flowers. I miss saw palmetto and Spanish moss and old cities with historical forts and ghost tours.
Home is where the heart is, and mine is still in Florida.