The ‘Season’ is Over

Snowbirds are now flying back to their northern nests.  This means that we have survived our very first invasion.  We noticed the change almost immediately as soon as April 1st arrived, with the entrance and circular road of our community being much less hectic. As the Easter and Passover holidays both started and ended, we also observed the local boulevards, shopping centers, and restaurants suddenly becoming less congested.  A very friendly woman from Canada who owns the condo unit above us, was packing her car yesterday in preparation to drive back home early this morning.  Our oceanside community is once again slowing down and becoming slightly less frenetic.

It is admittedly a little cavalier for me to be displaying relief about the departure of the snowbirds with only one Florida ‘season’ under my belt.  Perhaps in later years I can begin to exhibit a Daisy Buchanan-style irreverence on the fatalistic change to our lives from their annual invasion.  At the moment though, my observations are a touch contrived.

The majority of short-term winter visitors who come to Florida are from the Northeast, and sometimes it feels as if all of them are from New Jersey or New York.  Of course that’s not literally true because we see plenty of license plates from Virginia, Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, et. al.  Nevertheless, it is people from New York and New Jersey who seem to be, well, more conspicuous.  Collectively they offer a different kind of spirited fellowship to quiet communities such as the kind in which we now live.  For someone like Gorgeous, who spent so many years on a rural Michigan farm, it’s been an eye-opening experience.

If I appear to be parsing my words or being politically correct in a kind of disingenuous manner, it’s merely because I am genuinely conflicted when it comes to these good people from New Jersey and New York.   They are colorful, sharp, forthright, bright, and display a resilience that is utterly commendable.  These are, after all, people who so valiantly and courageously soldiered on after the attacks on 9/11.  A nation continues to admire them for their stiff upper lip.

But these are folk who are also opinionated, loud, pushy, and sometimes very rude. Am I generalizing here?  Absolutely.  Am I a bit sweeping and unfair?  Yep, guilty as charged. But, not fuh nuttin,’ I’m telling you this because it still needs to be said, capishe?

For two years, after moving from Michigan to Washington, DC, I lived in a group house with a bunch of law students, every single one of them either a New Yorker or a New Jerseyite. That I was neither studying law nor from their region made me a bit of a novelty in that home.  I recall absolute shouting matches with fiery bravado about Ringo Starr vs. Charlie Watts being a better drummer, or the ludicrous and never-ending debate on Jersey or New York having better pizza (answers: Ringo Starr gets my nod, and both pizzas are equally great).

My ex-wife is a New Yorker, though all of her step-siblings — each of whom hail from all five boroughs plus Long Island — were always quick to point out that she was raised in Port Chester and therefore her pedigree is somewhat diminished because of that.  It took her a good while after we were engaged to get the nerve up to take me back home and introduce everyone to me.  Indeed, it was quite an experience on that first visit, and truly for the rest of our marriage, to encounter first-hand the dynamic of people screaming at one another and not actually being mad.  Cynics might scoff and point out that most ethnic families — Italians, Irish, Hispanics — also yell at each other as a way of communicating and showing affection.  That may be true, but nothing can come close to a New York or New Jersey family — ethnic or not — for sheer volume and bluster.

By the time I moved here to Florida, I had long gotten used to being around New Yorkers and New Jerseyites.  For Gorgeous, however, it has taken some getting used to.  From the cutting off with a grocery cart in the produce aisle, to the excessively loud demand at the doctor’s office that a copy of an x-ray also be sent to a family doctor “back home,” it’s been a strange new cultural experience for her.  I’m holding my breath for one of these upcoming seasons when one will come to her for an in-person reading and she’ll hear a shrill, THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE MY AUNT ROSE AT ALL!  ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE NOT CONFUSING HER WITH MY LATE NEIGHBOR, MRS. HENDRICKS? YOU’RE SEEING STRINGY HAIR, RIGHT?!”  Gorgeous does all of her work with a near-whisper, so this will be an interesting dynamic should it actually happen.

Floridians have an absolute love/hate relationship with the snowbirds.  For three to four months a year, they pump millions of dollars into the economy with restaurants, shops, and other businesses deriving a majority of their annual profits from those months alone. As December and January approach, there is a collective bracing and sucking in of the breath, as permanent residents prepare for the onset of the maddening crowd.  Beaches, movie theaters, and parking lots all fill up fast. Doctor office waiting rooms become miniaturized replicas of Grand Central Station, and the friendly, deliberative internist you saw only three months prior is now rushing in/out of the examination room in order to keep up with all the patients she has to see that day.

And then April… come she will, changes everything back again.

For the next eight months, as high humidity and hurricanes become our only focus, we will enjoy the relative calm of ample shopping center parking and having an elliptical available at the gym again.  The beaches will be less crowded and vacant stools once more will be a possibility at the bar.  Most important, by this time next year I will be a veteran of having endured two snowbird seasons.  I get to be less cavalier with each passing year. Permanent residency has its privileges.

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11 thoughts on “The ‘Season’ is Over

  1. You may have hit on the next wave of political correct-ness (political correctedness?) — geographic discrimination! But I’m with you. I grew up in southern Connecticut where we developed regional snobishness in defense against New Yorkers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha. You are spot on! I’ve lived in New York 20 yrs and I still haven’t gotten used to the volume which they consider normal. I’m from the islands, raised to be seen and not heard, polite, respectful (never call anyone but friends by their first name), private. New Yorkers have this unique ability to air all their business on the bus, train or wherever. I just don’t understand that! Enjoy your breathing room 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah – the Atlantic Side of Florida and the Florida West Coast – It is true that the east Coast or Atlantic side does attract far more Northeastern types; but where I live, In Sarasota, we see far more Midwestern license plates.

    As a former New Yorker myself – I cannot disagree with your comments about volume, tone, aggressiveness and the grand poobah of them all – rudeness.

    But there’s congestion over here on the Gulf side too. Our movie theaters and and banks, and supermarkets and Best Buys, and even the Public Library all face encroachment from the warmth-seeking hordes.

    But when you get down to the basics – why wouldn’t they prefer to be sitting by a pool on January 18th in Del Ray Beach, FL, or Long Boat Key than shoveling snow in Glencoe Illinois, or Green Bay Wisconsin. Or even Hartford, Connecticut.

    When I had the opportunity, I said C-ya New York. Good bye to blizzards and hello to ladies in bikinis.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reminds me of the time my wife and I were in Ireland touring the country. We overnighted in Cork for a day and we both wanted to experience a real life Irish pub with the locals. We walked all over the town and settled upon an authentic looking pub that looked like it was hopping; went in and ordered a Guinness and then had to laugh upon discovering that almost everyone in the place was from New Jersey. 🙂 Not sure if that is the norm over there in the Spring with the tour groups going through, but we found about the same in every town we visited; could never find where the locals actually drank. So much for living a scene from “The Quiet Man.”

    As for snow birding….After winters like this last one, I can’t imagine shoveling snow in my 70s still and enduring freezing temps. Also, several summers ago, July-August timeframe, it was the usual 90-100 degrees with high humidity in the DC area; the lawn was brown; too hot to be outside to do anything past noon. I took a revolutionary war tour up in the Saratoga Springs, NY-Lake Champlain-Vermont area, at that time and was stunned. It was beautiful up there with temps in the 80s, low humidity, breezes – the locals were complaining about the heat and I had to laugh. People were out mowing their green lawns, riding bikes during the afternoon, eating outside. I was so used to heat and humidity during the summers growing up in St. Louis and living in DC, I forgot that other parts of the country fare much better during the summer season. Yes, I could see myself being a snow bird, reaping the benefits from living in a warmer climate during the winter and a less humid one during the summer. We’ll just park our future Winnebago over on the side of the complex and I’ll see you at the pool some January. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like my in-laws. They are mostly all down there in Florida, too. Not a lot of originality on where to move. Living with one loudish New Yorker isn’t so bad – not so much to be loud about, except the cats and the occasional phone call. It took me a long time to get used to it.

    Liked by 1 person

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