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
The 31st Chinese Export Commodities Fair (Spring) was held from 15 April to 15 May 1972, and most of the foreign traders attended for the whole month. While the main purpose of the Fair was for China to exhibit and sell its products to the western world, buyers from the Beijing Government’s import agencies attended to negotiate the purchase of raw materials, metals, minerals and other commodities from the west, hopefully paying with Chinese goods. China saw itself as a potential exporter of machinery and equipment, automobiles and other manufactured goods. In reality most of what was on display at the F Read on →
I sympathize with those brushing aside the "Deflategate" scandal swirling around the New England Patriots as much ado over little of consequence. After all, the Patriots absolutely annihilated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game on January 18. It’s hard to conceive any edge Patriots quarterback Tom Brady allegedly gained from playing with deliberately underinflated footballs could be primarily responsible for that butt whipping. Still, I’ve long wondered what our easy acceptance of cheating in sports says about our society. Considering the "Spygate" incident of 2007, when New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and his team $250,000 for Read on →
"It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. To serve as custodians of creation is not an empty title; it requires that we act, and with all the urgency this dire situation demands." -- Desmond Tutu The climate battle is heating up. At a January 16 press conference, NASA and NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) jointly released independent analyses that confirm 2014 as the hottest year on record. Last year broke records set previously in 1998, 2005 and 2010. Except for 1998, the 10 hottest years have all occurred since 2000. The press release followed a week Read on →
In her autobiography A Backward Glance (1934), Edith Wharton wrote: “In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” I like that concept which I stumbled upon this morning in a delightful newsletter called Dr. Mardy’s Quotes of the Week — Jan 18-24, 2015. Wharton was a great stylist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century whose books on the conflicts between societal mores and the pursuit of happiness are sti Read on →