- Important: All passwords were reset on 06/15/11. Old passwords will no longer work. Click here to retrieve your password.
- Subscribe to Our Free Dewsletter
We are non-commercial, all volunteer and supported by our readers. Please help sustain the Dew by making a donation.
I have a difficult relationship with Tallahassee, the small north Florida city where my family landed in the mid-1970s. A place that was largely black and white then and had little room for shades of brown. “Is your mama black or your daddy black?” was the first question I heard at Amos P. Godby High School.
We felt lost, after living in places that were far more cosmopolitan, after Kolkata, our home. There wasn’t even an Indian restaurant in town then; just a handful of desi families who gathered, it seemed, almost every weekend to cook for each other and talk about the homeland.
I graduated from high school in Tallahassee. And earned both my degrees from Florida State University. Every hard lesson I learned about life was learned in the house off Chapel Drive and in apartments I rented along Pensacola Street. Or in late-night sessions at the Grand Finale and the Office Lounge. And in classrooms in the Bellamy Building and the newsroom of The Florida Flambeau.
My mother suffered a stroke there, an event that changed all our lives overnight. I was married and divorced there. And by the time the 1980s were coming to a close, I felt claustrophobic and yearned to pack up my red Toyota pickup and race out of town.
That day came soon after and for the past two decades, Tallahassee has just been a place for me to visit occasionally, a place where I can never get lost on streets that remain familiar and yet, feel like a stranger every single time.
Many of my close friends who left town returned to settle in Tallahassee. It was a good place, they said, to raise kids, to own a house, to live life.
Their claims were affirmed today with the survey results of the Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Group, which listed Tallahassee as the Number One spot for Baby Boomers to retire. Climate, cost of living, access to health care and other services and amenities. All that plus the benefits of living in the shadows of two state universities and a large community college. You get opera, theater, music and poetry — big city stuff with small town comfort.
Most of the other cities on the Top 10 list are also in the South. Atlanta was Number Five, which may seem amazing to many of my northern friends who often knock me for having lived here so long. I have always told them all the same things that surfaced in this survey: I get to live a big city life with the comfort of a small town. I could never own a house and garden so close to downtown in New York or Chicago. Or afford to keep a car and get to work in 10 minutes.
The survey’s findings were not surprising to me. But Tallahassee’s top ranking bopped me over the head; made me think about my own past.
I am guilty, perhaps, of subconsciously blocking out all the good that I had there as though to justify my own decisions. But that’s not fair.
So here’s to Tallahassee. And to all my dear friends who chose to live there. Good on you. You won’t have to move again for retirement heaven.
- Editor's Note: The story originally posted at EvilReporterChick.com.
Worthy of Comment
Also on the Dew
In his poem The Cabbages of Chekhov, Robert Bly had me again when he wrote that, “William Blake knew that fierce old man, irritable, chained, and majestic, who bends over to measure with his calipers the ruins of the world.” Despite such a fierce image in his poem, Bly has that way about him where he can rescue you in the end from all the bad news that comes tracked in on the dog’s paws. With Bly on my mind, I wasn’t all that surprised that something magical was about to happen this past weekend. On the wings of Bly, a sweet little guy with a funny Read on →
Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed Dignity never been photographed Or so Bob Dylan says in "Dignity," a song he wrote in 1988 after learning of the death of basketball great Pete Maravich. Dylan has a point. Dignity isn't an item or commodity that can be replicated and mass-produced. It's a quality of fortitude and bearing, guiding one on how to respond whether the news is good or bad. The one possessed with dignity feels for others and thinks carefully on the consequences of his actions. Sometimes a dignified action doesn't pay off materially. It can also be misunderstood. Read on →
I read recently that the woman was so hateful that you could light a cigarette from her glare. There was just some deep hurt or plain orneriness about her that made her a Fukushima Daiichi that refused to cool off. When looking at the tabloid in the supermarket rack, I noticed that her mop of big hair needed some untangling and definitely a good scrub. She sat there showing a tattoo on her fleshy forearm bearing witness to whatever meaning was hidden beneath her skin’s impression of a tractor trailer. And she sure looked pissed. She apparently was nursing a grudge a Read on →
August 13th is National Left-handers’ Day. I will celebrate quietly. I’m not sure about my sister; she is also a southpaw. That means our parents created two left-handed children, well above the national average of 10 to 13 percent. If you believe human traits are the result of parenting and choices from our youth, my parents did something radical to create this high percentage of southpaw children, something I wasn’t aware of. If you accept science, and think we are preprogrammed with certain traits then it was a matter of chance. Being left-handed used to be a tough way to live. Every relig Read on →