People are fairly predictable. We all need a sense of belonging. As much as I enjoyed poking fun at tourists in my last post, the reality is that they’re just being (annoyingly) human.
Only one in three Floridians is actually a native. A variety of reasons have brought people here. (I’ll stick with modern migration, saving colonialism for a possible future rant.) Many have blended into their new environment. Many more seek to recreate the home that they return to annually or the home they’ve left permanently. They flock together with like-minded and like-rooted folks. This just compounds the bizarre cluster of craziness that makes Florida what it is. (Thanks to Gary Mormino for highlighting this for me – his Dreams in the New Century: Instant Cities, Shattered Hopes, and Florida’s Turning Point offers a great current historical perspective on the state.)
People act with their own frame of reference in mind. I’m here on vacation! (So everyone else much be!) I can afford to own two homes! (Never mind the service workers who have to commute to the islands every day because they can’t afford one place to live here.) I’m on my way to have more fun with all my friends from wherever we’re from! (Excuse me for being in your way.)
I’ll never be a Conch, no matter how long I am a local in The Keys. For years I struggled with the fact that I was never fully embraced by any place I’ve lived after leaving the place I was born. I will ALWAYS be a girl from Indiana Harbor. I will be able to relate to anyone from there, because I’m from there. But, I have no desire to transplant The Harbor everywhere I go. Maybe that’s why I admire those who travel and want to meet new people and see new places for what they are, not what they want them to be.
In his To Belong Or Not To Belong, Ricardo Gonzalez notes, “The very people who, before, were seeking inclusion, historically tend to become exclusive.” On that note, grow where you’re planted or transplanted without becoming a weed or invasive species.