Chronic Homesickness – A Native New Yorker’s Thoughts on Life In The South

I have not adjusted well to life in the South.

Nope, I have not...

Nope, I have not…

I know this because after almost 15 years, the only aspects of life in the south that I’ve embraced are gardenias, fried pickles and the Southern accent belonging to the one closest to me.  Oh, and I love Publix, the regional grocery store chain. (Sorry, I was distracted for a minute.  I defy YOU to think about the person closest to YOU and not be at least a little preoccupied…)

That would be about it. Other than Publix, it occurred to me that I could have ALL of that in a fifth floor walk up in New York, while the open windows let the summer breeze blow in the soothing, constant hum of the traffic from below. You can’t leave windows open here often because Florida is basically the Sun, only with the added bonus of a massive infestation of the most awful, unkillable insects ever.

Except for Mothra. He's nice, so he can stay.

Except for Mothra. He’s nice, so he can stay.

I do not kid. Without a serious hard freeze, the bugs just keep multiplying. And, while I would be sad to see poor Mothra fall victim to winter, I’d rejoice at seeing the rest of the vermin gone.

At least for awhile.

grits

Vinny and his confusion over grits is funny (no self respecting child of Italian descent should turn their nose up at what is essentially the bleached American cousin of polenta), but I can’t help but laugh harder when I remember a conversation I had with a former ‘of a certain age” female co-worker who hailed from Philadelphia (also of Italian American lineage) on the subject of grits. My feeling is that they are pretty darn yummy and cheese grits might actually be one of the most cozy, comforting things I’ve ever eaten. So, maybe that’s one more thing I like and could take back to New York with me.

Because, for as much as there are things I do like about living in the South (or Florida), New York is always going to be just a little better, in my humble opinion.

Every person from the Southern part of the United States reading this just rolled their eyes and sighed.

I felt it.

A disturbance in the bits, bytes and bandwith supporting this post strong enough for me to sense the words “Bless Your Heart...” in it’s proper context.

Right back at ya, folks. Gotta spread the blessing around, right?

However, since I discovered that people actually put ranch dressing on their substandard, assembly line pizza here, I stand by my statement. What the hell is wrong with you people?  Masking the awfulness of Domino’s pizza with ranch dressing is just sad. It’s cruel and inhuman punishment, not a treat.  Dominos, Poppa John’s and Little Caesar’s are the McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s of pizza places, and everyone deserves good pizza.

For the benefit of those of you don’t know any better and need to learn about good pizza, check out the picture below…

THIS IS PIZZA.....

THIS IS PIZZA…..I’ve eaten this pizza here.  It is one of the best I’ve ever had.

You still have to search for good bagels, pizza and Chinese food in this part of Florida. These are staples of a New Yorker’s diet and keep the Hidden Valley away from my pizza. (blech) I realize that this, and my internal lament at the lack of falafel trucks, muffin carts and soup trucks makes me as stereotypical a New Yorker as they come.  I find the fascination people have here with food trucks amusing. There was a food truck festival in my town a couple of years ago, and it was crammed with every gourmet offering possible, including a $30 New England/Long Island style lobster roll that killed my appetite before I could even eat anything. To add insult to very serious (not really serious at all) injury, there wasn’t one “dirty water” hot dog cart with hot knishes and pretzels to be found, and if they had been there, the traditional $1-$3 price tag for a hot dog with sauerkraut and a knish would have been more like $10.

The people who sell boiled peanuts (eww), though? At every freaking festival, farmer’s market, event….yeesh.  I can’t get behind a snack that looks like wet cardboard…

The problem here is me, of course.

The town I live in is not only historic, it’s filled with beautiful architecture, history and gorgeous landscapes.  Every night brings a gorgeous sunset and even if it rains, at some point, the stars are out afterward. So I realize the issue is my own. Florida, is for a lot of people, heavenly, genetically mutated insects aside.  People come here to get away from places like New York. As much as I know I am not so horribly put upon to be here, my feelings are very similar to what Cathy Earnshaw  describes in Wuthering Heights: “I dreamt once that I was there……heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out, into the middle of the heath on top of Wuthering Heights, where I woke up sobbing for joy.”

For me, it would be right in front of The Metropolitan Museum of Art instead of the heath on top of Wuthering Heights, but the thought is the same. Cathy is punished for ignoring the warning in that dream, and I can’t help but think that if when we know we’re in the wrong place, living the wrong life and we stubbornly stay in place anyway, aren’t we punishing ourselves?

Basically, we’re asking for it, I think.

Perfection...

Perfection…

I start feeling out of place when October rolls around. I’m usually the only one that’s happy when Halloween night is a little chilly and drizzly, but anything else just seems wrong somehow. Churches here sell pumpkins to raise funds, and the poor things always look to me like they’re on vacation. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, I’m edgy and lost.  The kind of autumn days that make you just gasp for their beauty aren’t something that happens here; the spectacle of vivid leaves against an sky so blue that it’s impossible to imagine it exists outside of nature. (As far as I can tell, it does not.) The only apples to pick are the ones in the produce department. Finding an ear of roasted Long Island corn dipped in melted butter would be about as miraculous as picking up a winning lottery ticket in a parking lot.  I cry like a homesick little girl during the Thanksgiving Day parade, EVERY year.

ChristmasDitto for the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting (which when I lived in New York, I only went to once, stood halfway down the block, close to a train station, just so I could jump on the subway before everyone else. Did I mention there was no hour long show at that time?) It’s wrong watching that on t.v. while it’s warm enough outside to warrant running the air conditioning.  But, I cry anyway, missing the smell of charcoal roasted chestnuts and soft pretzels.

Other things I miss:

Never had to worry about gas, got a seat most of the time and always had time to read.

Never had to worry about gas, got a seat most of the time and always had time to read.

Yes, the subway stinks, as in smells bad, but the fact that you can get around a city for less than $6.00 per person is awesome. Plus, I had so much time to read, it wasn’t funny.

Where the angels can toss me when I'm not happy to be in Heaven

Where the angels can toss me when I’m not happy to be in Heaven

Real museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim, The Museum of Natural History…just to name a few. There may be museums outside of New York, but as far as I’m concerned, the ones in New York are IT.

Autumn in New York, period.

autumn in NY

Apple Orchards.

apples apples

Pumpkin Farms.

long island

Flowers that will not grow in the Florida heat. (as hard as that might be to imagine.)

declaration-lilac

Snow days. This is Forest Park, one of the largest planned city parks in the United States.  I grew up right around this park, and it’s gorgeous.

forest park

How NY looks at night:

NY NY

And,last but absolutely not least, the landmarks…

statue-of-liberty-sunset

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2 thoughts on “Chronic Homesickness – A Native New Yorker’s Thoughts on Life In The South

  1. Having been in situations where you have to dump whatever onto whatever just to make you able to choke it down easier, it’s not unusual to find me spraying ranch sauce, ketchup or mustard all over perfectly edible pizza. Perfectly edible anything, in fact. Anyhoo, there are times when I wish I was back in civilization. There are places in the south where time moves much more slowly than you might think. I’m from and now live in an area where everything is ten to twelve years behind everywhere else, and it gets extremely frustrating. I spent some time in NYC, as you know. Got lost there for awhile and lost myself. Easy to do that in a crush of millions of people all heading in different directions. I don’t have your sentimental attachments, but then again, that was your home for a long time. It’s natural that you’re gonna miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You get a culinary pass on the condiments on everything. Although, you might see me wince when you do that to a meal I make you, but only because I use them so infrequently myself. (Which means more for you…lol)

    It’s funny (not ha ha funny) when you say you got lost in New York, because I feel like I’ve gotten lost n the South. It’s a small town; everyone knows everyone, but I so often find myself wondering how I got here, and what’s keeping me here. I think we all have a comfort level with the places where we were born, but I remember being happy in New York. My life made sense there in a way that it hasn’t in Florida.

    Like

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