The notification came via snail mail from Southwest Air: “Hey there. You’ve got a free trip to go anywhere we fly. So take off already.”
The timing was good. We were freezing with daily gloomfests here in Reno. So I started thinking. Tucson? Portland? San Diego? No, nix and negative. Let’s get away, and let’s go soleil. That is how I came to be in Miami on New Year’s Eve.
Cut to 1:45 a.m., Friday morning, Jan. 1, 2010. The party was over, and it had been a good one. I was dressed in a single layer, a short sleeve rayon shirt that was fairly damp from dance-induced sweat. In other words, a lousy get-up in which to hit the streets. If you’re in downtown Reno on NYE, that is. Fortunately for me, I was in Miami, where there was a warm Atlantic breeze gently swishing the fronds of the palm trees lining the streets, and an air temp of 70-freakin-4. At that moment, I got it. I got Florida. You could say … I got Floridated.
Cut to three days later, as the now infamous “cold snap” of 2010 rolled in from the north. I’m placing the words cold snap in quotes here because this was a Floridian cold snap. Meaning the high temp in Miami was going to be a “chilly” 62. I sorta rolled my eyes as you would expect someone from the Great Basin to do and said to myself, “Gee, hope I can cope.” Here at home, a January 62 means picnic time. To be fair, there was an edgy little north breeze that did indeed make that 62 feel like 52, but still, as cold snaps go, this one wasn’t exactly fearsome. (Of course, the citrus kings in the northern part of the state weren’t all that amused, with temps during the snap dropping into the fruit-freezing 20s. And those poor iguanas that froze and fell dead to the ground probably didn’t think it was all that hilarious, either.)
Cut to The Keys. What an outrageous piece of geography. A place where the Caribbean and the Gulf mingle and merge with lovely little mangrove-covered dots of land. A place where a boat actually seems a smart thing to own. A place where the pelican mailboxes outnumber the dolphin mailboxes, which outnumber the manatee mailboxes. A place where the birds on power lines aren’t doves and pigeons, but cormorants and white ibises (ibi?).
One night while in my motel room in Key Largo, it was kinda cold. Even for “the rugged Nevadan.” I fooled around with the heater, but it didn’t seem to work that well. I went to the office and asked if I could move to another room, one with a better heater. The woman at the desk looked curiously at me and said, “Honey, we don’t have heaters here in the Keys! You’re trying to get warm air out of your air conditioner. Good luck with that!” A place that has no need of heaters? Once again, I got nailed with that warm fuzzy feeling of Floridation.