Yep, I’m From the South
I haven’t seen you in a coon’s age!
South Florida that is, which is a unique subculture of Americana. Only here can you see a Ford pick-up truck pulling an airboat, a riced-out Honda with surfboards on the roof, a rusted out Chevy van packed with migrant workers, and a Lincoln Town car with Grandma driving, all pulling into a Jai Lai Fronton.
And I come from the northern reaches of this subculture, a town called Vero Beach, which is best described as ‘Zero Beach, home of the newly wed and newly dead’. Because its so slow and quiet here, families have moved in under the ‘it’s a great place to raise a family’ slogan, while the elderly have always enjoyed the mild winters and cheap prices not found in the Northeast.
Like all places, Vero has its social fabric defined by geography, in this case the Indian River, which is really a lagoon, defines those who live on the beach, rich snowbirds, versus those who don’t, rich Southerners & everyone else. Then there are two ghettos, for a lack of a better word, Oslo & Gifford, to the south and north of town where blacks were confined until recently.
My folks, having arrived in Vero with not much past their backpacks, managed to build a decent middle class South Florida life for themselves. While we didn’t live on the beach, and they still live on a dirt road, I was happy and comfortable in my position.
That is until I left Vero, went to university, Washington DC, and around the world and back again. Now when I visit, I give a little pause, as I feel odd in my old neighborhood. I look around and realize that if I were to live in Vero again, it wouldn’t be here.
No, I would be out there on the beach with all the rich snowbirds, enjoying Vero for its December sunshine before heading back to the big city. This thought humbles me, for only in America can I go from a dirt road to beach sand in one lifetime. Hell, in half a lifetime at that!
Okay, that is if I can manage to find a job soon so I can stay there. Life isn’t cheap, no matter which side of the river you live on.