It first hit me that I was in Florida when we took the monorail from the Jetblue terminal to the main terminal at the Orlando Airport. Outside was sunny and warm and there were tropical plants such as palm trees. The fact that I was in Florida also hit me when I stepped outside and it was hot and humid and as different as possible from Massachusetts, where we’ve been having an unusually cold and rainy May.
I’ve been waiting for this trip to Florida for over a year. I’ve been packed and ready to go for at least a week and this vacation could not have come soon enough. Last night, I sat on the couch eating pizza and watching Titanic with my dog Tyson and stopped the movie right as the ship hit the iceberg. Then I went to bed and slept until somewhere after one in the morning. Knowing that I had to get up at four, I stayed up and did some reading. At four, Mom told me to get ready. I got dressed and went downstairs and Tom drove us to the Jetblue terminal at Logan Airport. When we went through security, I was chosen for a random search and had to step into this weird scanner machine.
Our plane left at 7:10 in the morning. The time between our arrival and our departure went by pretty quickly. The nearest place to get something to eat was the Starbucks. The line was very long and the baristas were very slow and it took me a while to get my breakfast. When I was done eating I realised that I also needed to get some gum. Starbucks was also the only place nearby which sold gum and I had to wait in an even longer line. By the time I had gotten my breakfast, eaten it, and bought my gum, it was almost time to board the plane.
The reason I had to buy to gum was because I have heard that it stops your ears from popping during airplane takeoff and landing. But it does not work. I do not mind taking an airplane ( it can be exciting at times) but I do not enjoy it. The inside of an airplane is cramped and loud, the motion makes me feel queasy, and the air-pressure gives me a headache. I felt unwell for the rest of the day.
The plan landed a little bit earlier than expected. My mom’s friend Jill and her husband Steve, who we are staying with, picked us up in the main terminal. Driving away from the airport, I was struck by a feeling of culture shock. I have not been to Florida since I was seven and I’ve forgotten how different it is from Massachusetts. Florida’s palmettos, oleander bushes, and trees hanging with spanish moss are an odd contrast to the pine trees and marsh grass I’m used to looking at. Everything is strip malls and planned and gated communities, “suburban sprawl,” as Jill point it. The South, from what I’ve seen of it, always seems to be in a sunny, dusty, pollen covered haze. I guess it seems this way because I’m used to the the grey, bleak, cold, urban, New England coast.
We had an early lunch at a Cracker Barrel around eleven. I had fried fish with a side of corn and a side of macaroni and cheese. Cracker Barrel food is pretty mediocre and made my queasy stomach feel worse. After lunch, we drove back to Jill and Steve’s home which is one of the planned and gated communities I was talking about. Apparently taxes and property values are lower down here and one can afford a large and beautiful house for comparatively little. Jill and Steve’s home has several guest rooms; my mom and I each have a bedroom of our own and a bathroom to share. After I put my luggage down, Steve showed me some of these tiny lizards who live in their yard and we fed them mealworms. I then changed into my bath suit and went swimming for a couple of hours. My swim was cut short by a brief thunderstorm which had been predicted for that afternoon. We sat out in the enclosed porch until it began to rain. I dried off, took a hot bath, and changed my clothes.
After watching youtube videos on my laptop for a while, we went out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant called Torino’s Pizza, which reminded of Camillo’s, a place in New Jersey where my grand-parents always take me. I came to the conclusion that Florida reminds me of both New Jersey (the strip malls and planned and gated communities), and Maryland (the warm, humid, heaviness). Italian restaurants usually spoil you with portions and I only finished roughly half of my meal, though it was delicious. Another interesting thing I noted was that we passed a Winn-Dixie supermarket, a chain which I always associated with a children’s novel about a dog which I read in the third grade.
When we got back to the house, I took another swim before it gets dark. Jill has this pool light which changes colors, red to green, to blue, to purple, much like the one in Aunt Terry’s pool. I played a game of volleyball against myself. At 8, I got out of the pool and got ready for bed and went back to watching youtube videos. Tomorrow I have to get up early again, though not as early as today, because we’re going to EPCOT.