The further south you go, the further north you get. Directions mean nothing. You drive and drive and end up further away from where you were going than when you started. You only end up in the south (or is it the north?) by accident, and are never sure how you eventually get back.
Several times a year the tourists flock into your town, clogging the highways and the beaches and the restaurants. You look the other way as they wade into water that is just a bit cooler and murkier than it should be. What’s a few tourists, in the long scheme of things?
You see the Snowbirds come, the retirees that visit every winter to escape the cold. You have never met the same one twice. You stop asking for names.
You take a kayaking tour of the coast. Your guide whispers to you to be careful, says that the mangroves can be dangerous, warns you not to get lost. In the distance there is screaming. Your guide says that it’s just the local frogs, and you pretend not to see his haunted stare.
Alligators appear in every body of water. You hesitate to leave the bathtub unattended, never leave the dishes to soak in a full sink, but it does no good. They crawl out of the water pitcher, the birdbath, the puddles on your counter. You try to ignore them. They ignore you. You learn to live with them.
There is a Publix on every street, and you are glad. You love them with a fierce devotion you cannot begin to explain. When you visit other states, you feel empty inside, always thinking of when you can get back.
You do not believe in snow. You have seen it three times, on vacations up north… you do not believe in snow.
You barely even notice anymore when the hurricanes come, not until the air is heavy and yellow and the wind is strong. You think ‘oh’, and drive to the store to buy the third-to-last loaf of bread, and then it rains for 5 days and you eat canned beans by candlelight. Afterwards you can barely recall that it happened. Outside, there is a pile of woodchips where a tree used to be. You don’t remember why.
There is a man selling oranges beside the road, beside almost every road. You have never seen anyone stop for them, but there they remain. Someday, you think, you will buy some of those oranges. You never do.
In the distance, the clouds loom like mountains. You are not sure what mountains are, but you think they must be mostly like that. A handful of minutes later, they are gone.