One Year In Florida

ducks for blog

THE DUCKS THINK THIS BRIDGE WILL TAKE THEM ACROSS THE BORDER TO CANADA. 

As of Aug. 1, I’ve been a Florida resident for one full year! Driver’s license, car registration, voter registration, all accomplished within the first couple of months. Survived my first hurricane, too. Last week, I signed a lease renewal. Small rent increase, now will pay $699 a month. And my typical electric bill is around $46. Zero commuting time and distance.

Won’t try to write a full account of the year, but if I did, it wouldn’t be long. Compared with the first nine months of 2017, which included putting my financial house in order and removing myself from Maryland to Florida, the past 12 months have been a walk in the park.

I met the neighbors in the other three apartments on my floor. Three lone individuals, like me. I speak to one of them nearly every day. Big improvement over the $900 basement apartment in wealthy Montgomery County, where my neighbors were the storage room, the trash room, and the laundry room.

I soon discovered two excellent public libraries and one big bookstore with excellent discounts. And I tried a few churches. Like everyone else, I shop at Publix supermarket and Walmart. Four cheap restaurants are nearby. They meet my need for simple food and ambiance. But I eat in the apartment a lot. I know where to recycle newspapers and aluminum cans, but not plastic bottles.

Each apartment has its own air conditioner outside. My unit died in early July. No problem. Apartment management installed a window unit to tide me over two days while a new outside air conditioner was installed. It is powerful and efficient. Inside air temperature is NOT a problem, I can assure you! The outdoor temperature, humidity and rain in summer, that’s another story. Don’t even want to talk about it.

You have not seen lightning until you’ve lived in the Tampa Bay region.

Full disclosure requires me to report that I turned 70 in June. I’ve been aging at an alarming rate the past few years. Sleep too much. I accomplished the move to Florida on adrenaline fumes. Did it in the nick of time; not sure I’d be able to manage such a feat five years hence.

Truth is, I’m well on the way to becoming a cynical old man. Possibly I’ve already arrived. If a man isn’t cynical at this point, he just hasn’t been paying attention.

The move to Florida was necessary, and possibly life-saving. I escaped the nasty winter cold and the impoverishing Montgomery County cost of living. I haven’t had bronchitis since departing Maryland. Here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I survive nicely and balance my budget. And that’s enough honesty for one blog post.

— John

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22 thoughts on “One Year In Florida

    • It would be great to see you. I have found two small, nearby beaches that are under the radar, strictly local, almost a secret to tourists. They are quite nice in their way. What will you ever do when you also have grandchildren in Baltimore?

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    • Thanks Mark. I suspect you’ve discovered something even better. Meanwhile, I don’t know how your mom still handles Montgomery county. It is so expensive and has become overly congested. A far different place from when I grew up there.

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  1. And that’s enough honesty for one blog post.

    I make it a point to hide my honesty behind a hedge of fables. That way my readers can lead themselves to believe that the fable is both about them, or if necessary, anybody else.

    I hear what you are saying about winter – but oh my, summer in Florida?

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    • I admire and envy your talent for fable. Lacking that, I retreat to the old newspaper reporter’s reliance on honesty. It often lands me in trouble. Yeh, Fall winter and spring are so pleasant in Florida. But in summer heat and humidity combined make me understand why the state was sparsely populated before invention of AC.

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  2. Congratulation on your new home. Everything sounds good except the summer, but with air conditioning, it couldn’t be that bad. When it gets hot around here, I usually take very early morning walks, and then it’s enjoyable even if the weather is hard. May your coming year be even better. And to be sure there are a lot of good things to be said about 70, especially by those of us who’ve passed that great age.

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    • Thank you, Shimon. You’re right about choosing the best times to walk, and yes, there is something interesting about becoming an old man. I hardly dare think about it, but modern air conditioning is such a recent and unique development, and unnatural, to put it mildly. One has to wonder if the phenomena of AC may be a historical anomaly that will quickly pass, and what will be the next stage of our civilization, if any?

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  3. That’s why the South was historically so slow! Why would you want to move at anything but a snail’s pace in that weather. Andy and I went to a wedding in Orlando in August a few years ago and my hose became embedded in my toenail polish! Now that’s hot!! I am not that far behind you in age and I am really feeling it!

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    • Theresa, you are so right! I can remember Washington DC as a child in the 1950s. It was still a small, sleepy southern town. People walked slowly in summer. AC was only for movie theaters. People’s Drugstores had high ceilings and large ceiling fans over the soda fountain. That’s where everyone ate in DC before McDonald’s. People’s and Hot Shoppes. The high ceiling architecture and ceiling fans made life bearable. I believe Hot Shoppes was among the first to have AC. (Who would have believed then that People’s & Hot Shoppes would be extinct long before the end of the century??) And Terry, speaking of weddings, remember Stan and Ginny’s wedding, where the temperature outside was 105. In Frostburg in western Maryland! Hope you can visit my part of Florida, New Port Richey. But do it in fall, winter or spring, when weather is quite pleasant. I sent you a Christmas card last year, but it came back from the post office. Please text me Your new snail mail address at 443-610-3199, and I’ll give you my new address. Cheers, Bernie

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  4. I was born in South Florida before the Cuban airlifts and we had no A/C. Our windows were open each night to let the breeze inside. Now, people have removed the large windows and cemented in smaller ones with bars. It’s changed that much.

    My partner in blogging is now living in the Tampa area, too. Sounds like you’ve found your heaven on Earth. 🙂

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    • I can hardly imagine how anyone could survive in Florida without air-conditioning. That just shows how coddled I am. Just wondering, since you mentioned the Cuban airlift, do you think that the arrival of many Cubans has led to The changes you describe regarding bars on the windows?

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      • The day that Castro figured out he could empty the contents of his jail cells and make his problem our problem, that was as appalling to the Cubans who were airlifted before them as it was to us. If someone from Cuba makes it to US soil, he or she has refugee status.

        There was an attempt to relocate Cubans to other parts of the country, but many had family in South Florida. It was already a popular place to live, but South Florida became overcrowded.

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    • I lived in Maryland my whole life, elementary school, high school, college. I worked at a number of newspapers from Western Maryland to central Maryland to the Atlantic Ocean. No, I don’t feel like I’m completely adjusted to Florida after only 13 months. And I admit to missing Maryland a bit. I felt like I was an expert on many things about Maryland; in Florida, I am a total beginner. My knowledge of Florida is limited to this small part of the Gulf Coast just north of St. Petersburg. But the people here don’t seem much different from people in Maryland at all. A lot of the folks in this area are not native Floridians, but are people like myself who have moved here, especially people from the New York City area.

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      • Very interesting! I had no idea New York to Florida was so common. Do you have any intentions of returning to Maryland for a visit? Well we are sure as you begin to grow more versed with your surroundings that sense of expertise will return!

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