Home State Pride

It was just another early morning shift at my job. We rolled in at 6 AM, yawning, ready to unpack and sort through boxes and boxes of shipment that we had received the day before. Pandora music playing full blast through a cell phone and slap-happy, half-awake conversations are the only things that keep us going through these wee morning hours. But on this particular morning, the conversation took a terrible turn.

My co-workers–these people I thought I knew–started trash-talking Florida, my home state.

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It wasn’t intended to offend me. Some of my co-workers didn’t even know that I’d recently moved from Florida to Pittsburgh. They shrugged when I told them, and continued to list Florida’s supposedly many flaws.

It shouldn’t have bothered me that much. But to stand there and listen to my co-workers speak so matter-of-factly about my state (which some of them had never even visited!) at 6 AM, running on very little sleep, REALLY pushed my buttons.

You don’t see me bullying other people about their states. I’m not walking up to a Texan and acting all like, “Texas is the WORST. It’s so big and boring…and stuff. Florida’s way better!” I’ve often heard people say, “Don’t mess with Texas,” and I’m not about to start.

It may have less to do with my co-workers hating Florida and more to do with the bizarre Pittsburgh pride phenomenon that I’ve witnessed over the last (almost) year that I’ve lived here. Talk to any native within the city limits, and they will swear up and down that Pittsburgh is the BEST and ONLY place to live in the entire country. Oh they’ve visited other cities, sure. New York City? Been there, done that. Los Angeles? Not as great as it looks on TV. Philadelphia? Psssh….boring. Pittsburgh is the ONLY place they would ever want to call home. Read: the only place they ever HAVE called home.

If you run across someone who admits that Pittsburgh isn’t that great? Ask them when they moved here. You’re not talking to a born-and-raised-in-Steel-town Yinzer. And if you don’t know what that means, that’s probably a good thing.

Pittsburgh is okay. I don’t want to bash it, necessarily, like my co-workers were bashing Florida. It’s a pretty nice town. But it’s just not heaven-on-earth, that’s all I’m saying.

So you can imagine my surprise when the guy standing next to me, tagging sweatshirts with security sensors and handing them to me to be put on hangers, randomly says, “Florida is basically where people go to die.”

What?!

And everyone in the room gets a good laugh out of that and starts agreeing with him.

And I, perhaps taking this comment a little too seriously, demand, “What would make you say something like that?!”

He vaguely responds, “Well, you know, because there are so many old people there…”

Oh really?! And there aren’t just as many little old ladies here in Pittsburgh, jamming up the grocery line at the Giant Eagle to buy their scratch-off tickets?

Just a little side-note...shopping at Publix, which was originally a Florida-based grocery store, is infinitely better than shopping at the Giant Eagle. Just sayin.

Just a little side-note…shopping at Publix, which was originally a Florida-based grocery store, is infinitely better than shopping at the Giant Eagle. Just sayin.

It wasn’t just the elderly that my co-workers had issues with. They also complained about alligators, bugs, heat, and Disney World.

How long have you lived in Florida, again?

Oh, that’s right…NEVER.

So allow me, friends, to explain a few things about my home state.

florida

Florida, despite what some may think, is not hot ALL the time. Just because we don’t get any snow doesn’t mean it doesn’t get a little chilly in the winter (especially if you’re living up in the panhandle). And I think it’s kind of poetic that when I was growing up, I didn’t realize that in the wintertime, for most of the country, the landscape was turning brown and dead and full of muddy snowy slush. I didn’t realize it because my state stays lush and green year-round. It’s always pretty in Florida.

While my Pittsburgh co-workers were all high-fiving each other about scoring season passes to Kennywood (Kenny Rogers’ own theme park), I was visiting Disney World about twice a year, eating breakfast with this guy:

It was a sad day when I was finally old enough that my mom started refusing to make me Mickey-Mouse-shaped pancakes. *Sniffle*

It was a sad day when I was finally old enough that my mom started refusing to make me Mickey-Mouse-shaped pancakes. *Sniffle*

I was also outdoors most of the time during my childhood, riding my bike and climbing trees even in January and February. I once got fussed at by my mom for climbing over the chain link fence that bordered my cousins’ backyard and taking some oranges out of a huge, commercial orange grove. My excuse was that we eat the oranges that grow in grandma’s backyard…isn’t this the same? πŸ˜‰

This is basically just free, delicious candy, right?

This is basically just free, delicious candy, right?

Every summer we would visit one of Florida’s many beaches and stay in a house or condo there for at least a week. I spent those weeks feeling sunburned, waterlogged, and happy, not even able to fathom how my neighbors in the land-locked states were spending their summers.

The place where people go to die?! More like the place we're all hoping we go AFTER we die.

The place where people go to die?! More like the place we go AFTER we die.

Some of my Florida friends have spotted alligators and even black panthers in their backyards–it’s true. You’re talking about the state that advertises the “World’s Largest Alligator!” at nearly every rest stop exit along I-95. But doesn’t that make life a little more exciting? Everyone else around the USA seems to just get boring old deer in their yards (excluding Alaska, of course), and hey!–we have deer in Florida, too.

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In Florida, we don’t follow pro-football like we do college. I grew up in a state where everyone knows the difference between FSU and UF, and they have very strong opinions about each of them.

florida 6

Yes, we have bugs in Florida. And lizards. But nothing near as bothersome as Pittsburgh’s stinkbugs or cicadas. The bugs and lizards in Florida just serve to make everything feel a little more tropical. In the summers, Florida follows an almost rainforest-like schedule of storming every day at 4:00 PM on the dot, often with fantastic displays of lightning and thunder, and then clearing up and becoming beautiful and sunny again within the hour. Then, in an almost magical way, as twilight falls, a harmonic cacophony of crickets and frogs herald the start of evening. And even though the sun has set, the evening feels just as warm and comfortable as the day, inviting you to pull up a chair and stay outside awhile to enjoy the stars and sounds of the owls hooting in their trees. Or perhaps a late night swim in the tepid waters of the pool. Oh, I miss it. πŸ™‚

I spent my rosy, childhood years in Florida, so I’m a little biased, I’ll admit. But I know I can’t be the only one. Do you get that same swell of pride when you talk about your home state?

Just to clarify, I've been talking about Florida here--not to be confused with Flo-Rida, the popular rap recording artist.

Just to clarify, I’ve been talking about Florida here–not to be confused with Flo-Rida, the popular rap recording artist.

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Categories: Florida, Home | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Home State Pride

  1. Your co-workers were being very inconsiderate. Not cool to bash on a place – especially in front of someone who is from there. I think it’s kind of like a sibling – you can talk about their flaws, but curse anyone else who does! I get protective of my state too – and people bash on New Mexico a fair amount. But really if that just means that their type is never going to live near me and releasing their negativity in the fresh desert air, then I guess they can think whatever they want. πŸ™‚

    • I’ve never been to New Mexico, but I went to Arizona on a family trip one time (that’s your neighbor, right?). I remember feeling surprised at how beautiful the desert is–all of those striking orange and red tones! And cacti, and crazy big lizards, and tarantulas! We have a family member who just decided to move out there after living in the northeast for her entire life, and she LOVES it there. I think it’s exciting that the U.S. is such a big country that we have CRAZY different weather and terrain depending on where you live. 😎

  2. Yeah! Go Florida (State)! πŸ™‚

  3. Aww so mean! I’m sorry you had to deal with your coworkers bashing your home like that! Truth be told, I LOVE Florida! I’ve never lived there, but it’s on our list of places to possibly move. I really wouldn’t want to live anywhere north of where I live now because I hate the cold so much (granted, I say that and I’ll end up in Alaska one of these days, haha!). I don’t know many people from Pittsburgh, but the way you describe their blind devotion to their home city/state is SO much many of the people I’ve known from Texas (not all of them, mind you, but a good many of them). To be honest, I thought it was a joke for the longest time, but the more I got to know them and after visiting Texas a couple of times as an adult I’ve realized that there really are people who thing where they live is better than anywhere else in the world. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Memphis. It’s great for us. But do I think it’s superior to living on a beach somewhere? Um, no. Ha! But maybe this is because I moved around so much that I can’t understand the whole “state pride” thing. I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m really sorry your coworkers acted like that! Just remember, I love Florida too! πŸ™‚

    • I’ve known a few people from Texas, too…that’s why I’m not messing with them! πŸ˜‰ It’s the same reason I feel like I have to whisper if I say anything negative about Pittsburgh out in public, like, “I’m not a big Steelers fan.” Shhhhh! It’s true what you say–I think the more you move, the more you’re open to the beauty of living in other places. By the way, what is your home state, Rach? I can’t remember if you’ve mentioned it before or not.

  4. I agree with you Micah’s well thought out and nuanced comment

  5. Rick

    LIES. It IS always hot in FL. *cough*GoMichgan!*cough*

    I’m just playin.

    But it is always hot.

    That’s weird, because in MI, FL is always the vacation destination. The place lucky people get to live (except for the summers). Now that I am here I miss the snow and other things. It’s home. I won’t say its better than anywhere else, but I am very fond of it and wish I could share it with my kids sometimes. I want them to have fond memories like I have, but I guess they will have similar thoughts of FL.

    • Home is always where you heart is, and where you have the fondest memories. πŸ™‚

      Even if your home is cold, deathly Michigan. πŸ˜›

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