I’m in a Long Distance Relationship…with Florida.

Florida seems to have a bad reputation and I guess I understand it. You can google “Florida Man” followed by your birthday (mm/dd) and the search engine will come up with a series of ridiculous news headlines about some crazy thing a Florida man did. My birthday search results in:

“Florida Man Allegedly Stabs Dog For Siding With Girlfriend During Arguments” 

and

“Florida man shot and killed over parking space”

Dan’s birthday results in:

“Florida man gets Bush-whacked, struck with can of beans by local deputy” 

and

“Florida man fatally stabbed for eating roommate’s groceries”

But I’m not going to try to make a case for Florida. I wouldn’t do that. I want her all to myself. I’m in a long distance relationship with Florida and it’s tough. I think about her when we’re apart and search for opportunities to visit any chance I get. I only get to see her a few times a year, but when I do, we start up right where we left off.

Walks through the mangroves to secret beaches, cheap beers at the tiki bar, beach chairs sinking into sandbars, pink and orange and purple sunsets, hot sand, cool water, manatees curiously edging the coast, dance parties under the stars, the endless search for shark teeth, hammocks swinging in the breeze – not a worry in the world. My cheeks hurt at the end of the day from smiling.

She’s a wild one though and when I’m with her, the opportunities for adventure seem endless.

Air conditioners on, windows down. Big trucks, pedal to the metal when the light turns green. Classic rock playing from pontoons parked on shore. Night fishing under the bridge. Tug-of-war with gators trying to snag your catch. Two for one drinks and ladies night. Live music every night of the week. Pelicans dive bomb for dinner. Snakes basking on the warm asphalt when the sun goes down. Kayak rides through mangrove tunnels. Bicycles on the highway. Fireworks on a Tuesday. She’s not what I’m used to but she impresses me every time. I can’t seem to get enough.

I spend the last day of our time together thinking about how much I’ll miss Florida when I’m gone. I dread saying goodbye. I know reality is waiting. Life can’t be like this all the time but I don’t want to leave. I’m never ready to leave. How am I supposed to go back to life without her? When it’s time to say goodbye, I look back one last time. I try to hold the image in my head until I see her again. Goodbye for now Florida.

Good thing my true love is waiting for me back home.

Virginia.

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