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Monday, July 12, 2010

Where does your heart live? (again)

Several people, presumably sick of hearing me rhapsodize about The Best Place On Earth, have said, But Diana! You LOVE Florida! How can you even think of moving somewhere else?

It's true. I do love Florida. Occasionally it feels like I'm the lone soul in this Bible-thumping, hellishly hot, tacky, swampy, lousy-with-Northerners, sandy-soiled oasis who really enjoys being here. I am a second-generation Floridian, which is only impressive if you consider that about 80% of the population here is from somewhere else, and my third-fondest wish (first-fondest: the offer of a librarian position in the London library and a flat in Bloomsbury; second-fondest: guaranteed expatriation to The Best Place On Earth along with a librarian position in Victoria) is for the clan house in Merritt Island, which currently belongs to an aunt and uncle, to be willed to me. I love marshes, loud birds, really hot sunshine, citrus fruit, narrow old roads, mocking tourists, slow rivers brown with leaf-mold, abundant seafood, heat lightning, water prairies, Disney World, and Florida's greatest treasure, cold springs. By the way--if you have never been in 72-degree crystal-clear spring water, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED. So see to that.

I don't love awful traffic, religious fanatics, bizarre and terrifying zoning laws which allow for uncontrolled urban and suburban growth, interstates, anti-pedestrian cities (did you know that the top four worst cities for pedestrians are all in Florida? Be proud, Tampons! We're number three!), the destruction of a beautiful and unique environment, a hideous attitude toward immigration, the giant Confederate flag flying at the junction of I-75 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, despicable medical laws, and being sunburned in the ten minutes it takes to walk across my college campus.

I am not under the illusion that The Best Place On Earth is perfect. However, it is leagues closer to perfection than my dear home state, or any other part of the United States that I have been in. What can I say beyond "I'm in love"? It is true that part of my heart belongs to London and the UK in general, and always will, but my brain has accepted that immigration to Britain is a pipe dream. Immigration to Canada is not. It's within my reach and I want it. My core values and concerns are represented better by Canada in general and British Columbia in particular, and the United States doesn't seem concerned with changing that. A reasonably common subtext to the But Diana! You LOVE Florida! concerned queries is But why would you want to live anywhere other than the United States? I really don't think the concept of immigration occurs to the bulk of white middle-class Americans; they're in the US, and the US is where immigrants come, and that's the extent of immigration for the majority of US citizens. Little thought of themselves going anywhere else.

"Anywhere else" is, I feel, where my destiny lies. Across the continent, three time zones and a country away. I'm almost there.

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