- Years old:
- Where am I from:
- I'm from Uruguay
- Color of my eyes:
- I’ve got brilliant green eyes but I use colored contact lenses
- Color of my hair:
Yeah, a lot of cities are good at a lot of things.
I write about it constantly.
I think about it all day long. It bleeds into everything I do. I am steeped in the state. As I started this piece, yet another hurricane was barreling toward the coast. I went to Publix and could barely find a parking space; all the newcomers and tourists were there buying batteries, water, bread.
I walked along the frozen section and took advantage of the deals on chicken strips. What it means to live in Florida your whole life is that you get used to things. Yet when I post about it on the internet, people find it strange. Is it really? What makes something quintessentially Central Florida?
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Is it the bizarre interactions between man and his environment? Or the so-called strangeness of its people, those Weird Florida and Florida Man moments that repeatedly crop up in the news? Florida often gets lumped into one bulk sum in the public imagination: a smashing together of everything that makes up the peninsula, though anyone who lives here can tell you with authority that the Panhandle is not Miami is not the Keys is certainly not Orlando. Recently, a wave of novels, memoirs and TV shows has set out to get the details and nuances right, especially where it concerns Florida women.
The story concerns grief and loss and love, but also how death and birth feel intrinsically linked in the Sunshine State. Jessa-Lynn, my protagonist, has much in common with the central characters of two TV series set very specifically in Central Florida. The lead characters are women looking to make their way in an environment that is often hard, brutal and uncaring.
These are women willing to dig deep and sacrifice in order to find success. But what success looks like to them varies wildly. Their similarities lie in how they manipulate their circumstances to get what they want.
Both shows dig into the heart of Florida. There is always that sun-drenched backdrop that takes over everything: that dewy, mildewed, strip-malled, occasionally dumpster-adjacent landscape that bleeds its sunsets over retention ponds and oceans alike.
Central Florida is all creeping plant life, juicy and teeming, ready to suck up everything. They steal.
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They pawn their things to make rent. As Shelby prepares to take an exam for a G. This is a legitimate question that many small-town Central Floridians often ask one another. It is a place that can be hard for people. There are problems with race, class divides and privilege.
Staunch conservatism, born from our mega churches, makes those who identify as L. I never think about getting out of Florida.
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Other people grew up here and wrote about it, too. Just a few blocks away from my house, Zora Neale Hurston was raised in historic Eatonvillethe first all-black town to incorporate in the country.
While she is associated with the Harlem Renaissance, she was also a beautiful Florida writer whose books are seemingly on every Central Florida reading syllabus. The culture of a place embeds itself inside you.
Florida, with its wild palm scrub, its palmetto bugs, its hills of fire ants and heaps of molehills, permeates the art that people create. Tourism, which has long driven our state economically, is bracketed by the wildlife that surrounds it. There are retention ponds and lakes and alligators butted up against people and businesses and homes. Consequences inevitably arise from interacting with that wildlife. There is violence. To see this paired alongside the placid, fabricated world of the water park replete with its chlorinated pools and snack bars feels incredibly Orlando.
We might break ourselves trying to make it. We might make ourselves ugly in the act of trying to find and discover beauty. We might flounder in the swamps of our specific upbringing until we realize we are becoming the exact things we said we never wanted to become: our parents, our neighborhoods, Florida itself.
Watching these shows, I see a Florida I am intimately familiar with: ranch houses with crispy yards, bathrooms full of salmon pink tiles with mildew staining the caulk. Shag rugs. Tourist industries and business built on the backs of people who work there for minimum wage.
They shop for groceries in convenience stores. The sun beams down on all of it, harsh and exacting. Female characters in my novel deal directly with grief and learn in very different ways how to weather it together. Hardy, sustainable despite the setbacks, unwilling to compromise on the things we want most. Central Florida is the humidity that frizzes your hair.
The recent art that features Central Florida works to make place a valuable character. When the hurricane is on its way, what do we do?
We fill our bathtubs with water. We pull out candles and flashlights. We invite over our neighbors. We weather the storm. And then, together, we work to clean up the debris. I Should Know.