Ante Bellum David Hertle 767002 Unsplash

The South and Why I Mistakenly Left

South Florida is NOT the South

Atlanta, Georgia is my home and always will be. Southern hospitality is not dead in Atlanta. But, a few years ago, I moved to South Florida which is not “the South.” I thought I was just moving to a similar location but warmer. Was I wrong!

South Florida is an area of many diverse cultures. I didn’t know it was also twice as expensive as Georgia. Georgia has more space and less expense with a living wage and more jobs.

South Florida reminds me of Georgia back in the ’60s or ’70s during the race riots and segregation.

You don’t know from one day to the next if you ask someone a question whether they will understand you or not. There is a lot of violence in certain sections of Dade and Broward counties. This is an everyday thing no matter what area you live in I guess.

More people packed together. South Florida is overcrowded and waiting and waiting in line for anything gets on people’s nerves so they lash out. Also, in a lot of the parking lots by strip malls and such, there are a million islands that you have to maneuver in order to get to a parking space. This drives some people to the brink of insanity namely me. THERE IS NO SPACE!!!!

There are a lot of auto accidents because the roads are laid down in a North/South/East/West diagram. You would think this would help because you can see for a long ways when driving. But no, people are struck down, bikers are hit if they are outside the bike lane, and parking is bad. It costs a lot to park unless you park in a private lot. THERE IS NO SPACE!!!!

You get charged for everything when you drive a vehicle and I don’t mean just for gas. I never heard of being charged to drive your car. For instance, you get charged for parking, you get charged for parking in the wrong place along with being booted and possibly towed. You get charged for tolls and get a bill later to pay. If you don’t pay they can suspend your license and keep you from renewing your tag. There are many cameras and you get tickets in the mail out of the blue. Wow!

Also, if you live in an apartment/community your car gets towed if your license and tag are out-of-date and if you park in the wrong place, even though, there is nowhere to park except for that small space on the bank, under the trees, next to or close to a fire hydrant OR NEAR THE FIRE LANE. It will also get towed if you have a flat tire and you haven’t gotten it fixed. No bum cars in our parking lot please. Everybody is watching you!

Everyday on the news you hear of drive-by shootings, thefts, homes burned down, home invasions, rapes, child molestation, school shootings, just plain murders, bridges falling down killing people, things dropped off overpasses onto cars and killing or hurting people resulting in a lot of law suits. If the heat and humidity won’t get you the environment will.

I moved for other reasons. One is to live closer to my daughter and granddaughter that have lived in the area for over twenty years. There was trouble with my granddaughter’s drug addictions which caused my daughter a lot of sorrow, anger, and hopelessness. I was hoping I could be a buffer and help in some way.

My daughter mentioned the move during a time when I was being phased out of my job since I was getting older and phasing into “retirement” age. I thought it would be better for us, my boys and me, to move and to have a change. They needed to get away from bad influences and I was just tired.

Personally, I got beat up by corporate America and the challenges of having to keep up with technology, social standards, training people that were more than half my age young, and being the office housekeeper.

I worked for a financial consulting firm for ten years as the Office Manager which means anything that needed to be done fell under that title. The company had six offices when I started working there and was down to three when I left. It was good at the beginning learning all sorts of things and it was challenging and fulfilling, but in the end, the micromanaging of every breath you took was constant anxiety you did not want to deal with on a daily basis.

There was so much pressure to be perfect with all you did and so much judgment when you made a mistake. I felt it was not worth it anymore. It’s what happens when your freedom and self respect are taken away. You end up being overweight with high blood pressure issues.

Since retiring in South Florida and living here for five years, I have missed Georgia a lot. I miss the southern hospitality, the southern charm, the accents, the landmarks I had been accustomed to seeing such as the Waffle House restaurants near the highways, Chick-Fil-A restaurants, Grady Memorial Hospital, Coca-Cola, the Atlanta skyline where I could pick the buildings that I worked in from my past, and the small iconic restaurants in various areas of town. Decatur, Norcross, Sandy Springs, Duluth, Alpharetta, and Jonesboro; a few areas that are decent to live in.

I miss the rolling hills and the foliage, especially the many beautiful oak trees that have been there for more than 100-years. I miss the easy bus routes and the trains you can take to events and the airport via MARTA. And it was safe. I never had any problems with anyone ever.

The weather in South Florida is scary with hurricanes coming from either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic oceans. There are times of high tides which flood the coastlines that people love to congregate near. The high tides happen often. Thank goodness the hurricanes don’t.

Because there are no large trees or canopy of any sort when it rains it comes down in sheets and there is a lot of it. Lakes and canals fill up and flood the surrounding areas.

Don’t get me wrong about 85% of the time the weather is dry and beautiful. When it’s not it gets scary. A lot of wildlife live within areas populated with people or the other way around. We the people have encroached upon their wetlands and made them inhospitable for wildlife.

Don’t be surprised to run into an alligator near a canal or waterway or in your backyard. There are many water fowl, iguana, snakes, ducks, and lizards that run free. Most just want you to feed them. Ducks and iguana are really hilarious and tell their friends about you if you give them a morsel or two. The next day you have a brood to feed. If you don’t want that to happen don’t start.

I suppose I am getting used to living in South Florida, but there is that old familiar pull of Georgia where you feel the people are nicer, the food is better, and the crime is lower.

Georgia’s economy and culture are top-notch. They have many more financial firms and economic opportunities than South Florida and Georgia is rich in the “old South” history of the Civil War era.

There are many art centers and museums in areas easy to get to. So many artists come to Georgia to promote their businesses and for concerts, plays, sports events, and business opportunities. The Miami area in Dade County is similar, but offers different opportunities and cater to more of a Hispanic community and vibe. There are sections that are Haitian, sections that are Puerto Rican, sections that are black, and sections that are high crime. I don’t think Georgia is broken down into such sections.

South Florida only gets a few days in winter when it is actually chilly and may hit 45 degrees. But to South Floridians, that is cool enough. They break out their puffy jackets, ear muffs, and boots. I walk around in a light-weight parka. It is just crazy to me.

Atlanta has its bad weather, mosquitoes, hot weather bugs, and heat and humidity. And The Walking Dead was filmed there along with other movies, of course. That makes it unique in my book. I remember watching The Walking Dead and seeing all the landmarks that I’ve known and loved.

All of these things are part of me and living in Florida will never be my home. It may be ‘home away from home’ but never home.