I returned to South Florida in January after being gone for about five-and-a-half years. Yesterday, one of my best friends asked me (yet again) why I moved back to such an effed-up state. Ah, Florida…where the current governor is a climate-change denier, the prison system is rife with corruption and scandal and parts of Miami Beach are flooding regularly with high tide. Just this week, a little boy who is the same age as my oldest nephew was killed by a family member. Both of his parents have criminal records and DCF was called multiple times with abuse reports, but of course now it is too late.
When she asked me why I returned to Florida, it did make me pause for a moment. When I am being objective, I understand completely that this is indeed an effed-up state. But the truth is that Florida is the only place that feels like home. For me, Florida seems to be that ex-girlfriend that I just cannot get over. We have “broken up” twice before in 1996 and in 2009, so this is the storied third time around. If I am being truly honest I have to admit that all of the craziness and all of the paradoxes in Florida somehow fit me. I fit here.
Another truth is that I feel an urgency of mission. Before too many years have passed, almost certainly in my lifetime, this spot where I am sitting will be under water. Climate change and melting glaciers have precipitated tremendous change already. This week is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Miami Beach. In yesterday’s Miami Herald, along with celebratory articles about the week-long activities that will be taking place, there was an article that asked if Miami Beach will become a second Venice (Italy, not Florida). For Miami Beach is an illusion, a man-made beach filled with sand that was dredged out of the sea and the sea is ever fighting to reclaim its rightful place. Miami Beach was manufactured in the truest sense of the word -- made by man. But I digress…
Why am I here? I am in South Florida because I understand that South Florida is living on borrowed time and I want to be able to enjoy the time that is left. I am here on a mission to become involved in and to serve my communities – the HIV/AIDS community, the LGBTQ community, the South Florida community, the Florida community. These are my people and I came back to serve them. I can’t change Florida, but I can give back to my community. This community that helped to make me the adult that I am today.For despite my cringing whenever another crazy story about Florida attracts national attention or at other times when Florida makes headlines for all the wrong reasons, this is my community. This is where I belong. This is where I have a voice and can be heard. I can make a difference. I can use my talents and skill to help my local HIV/AIDS community as a proxy for the entire HIV/AIDS community and I can help my local Pride Center as a proxy for the entire LGBTQ community and so contribute to my city, Broward County, the South Florida region and the state of Florida. I am needed. My spirit matters, my energy matters, my heart matters, my mind matters, my love matters, my light matters…I matter. And so as March 2015 is speeding to a close, that is The View From Here.