I moved to Florida from North Carolina 6 weeks ago and, I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a challenge. I have to use GPS to find the grocery store . . . there’s always a weird film on my windshield . . . possums, alligators, tiny ants and no-see-ums. (Dear LORD, where did those things come from, because I’m fairly certain they could only be of the devil.)
Perhaps the most shocking revelation is other people’s reaction to finding out where I’m from.
Pleasantries are exchanged; my accent noted. “Where are you from? I hear a little Southern accent.” (A little? Like the Atlantic’s a LITTLE wet?)
“I just moved down from Charlotte, North Carolina,” I say with a smile.
My arm is grabbed, Momma-style. Eyes widen.
“OMG . . . be careful. Everybody here is an asshole.”
Now, just what the hot hell am I supposed to say to something like that?!?!? “Thank you soooooo much for your warning. I will promptly go home and lock the doors and stop trying to make friends and build a network in my new zip code.” What the what???
“It’s a cowboy state,” they say. “Don’t leave anything visible in your car. Always lock every door. Don’t talk to strangers. And DEFINITELY don’t collect any free puppies from the van.”
I only kid (a little) about that last one.
Perhaps I’m aggressive in my assessment. It isn’t EVERY Floridian I meet who says horrible things about their state & neighbors.
In my short time, I’ve met a number extraordinarily friendly, emotionally open and very inclusive people. These are the folks who have said, “Let me introduce you to some friends. Would you like to join us for dinner? Want to go to the beach? I’ll ask if any apartments are available.”
These are the people who get my number and actually call or text. These are the people who check in on my settling in. These are the people who are happy to share a little of their love and light with the new girl.
These people are the keepers.
And, when I think about it, I’m truly grateful the non-keepers make it readily apparent who they are by presenting negativity at every turn. I’m glad for the obvious visual assessment and categorization, the words of “warning” and offers to screen people so I know if they’re “socially acceptable to know” or not. (Not even exaggerating or making that up.)
These people are not my tribe.
I let them pass freely and send them a little light and love for their journey, so as to keep plenty of space open for those who do bring the bright and shiny into my life.
So, the next time someone says, “Brace yourself, everyone’s an asshole,” I’ll have to bite my tongue. Because I’ll be thinking, “Maybe that’s just what YOU bring to the table.”