I’m entering my 2nd full week of being a Pensacola resident, and may I say, this place is already pissing on my comfort zone.
Hey, have you guys heard about the protester being run over and hanging onto the hood of a SUV?
Yeah, that was in Pensacola.
Hey, have you guys heard about Cristobal, the Tropical Storm?
Yeah, that’s going down in Pensacola.
Hey, have you guys heard about the Naval Air Station shooting last year?
Hey, have you guys heard…?
…You get the gist. Pensacola (and Florida in general) is a strange, strange place to outsiders especially if they’re from the North. People have their own ways of doing things down here. Nature has its own way of doing things when it sees Florida. That’s how it is.
It could be pure happenstance, I don’t know. I just happened to move here when this national turmoil was going down. I happened to move here when a Tropical Storm was headed towards the Panhandle.
I should stop being so dramatic. Geesh.
Regardless, I the suburbanite from Connecticut, am coming to terms with the strangeness of the world outside of my home state. If you’re not making yourself uncomfortable, then you’re not growing, right?
My situation reminds me of a book chapter I read back in high school, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Man, was that a great book. In fact, it was the only required reading book that I genuinely enjoyed.
The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories about the author’s experiences in Vietnam. It’s known for its evocative imagery and no-holds barred look into the darkest recesses of the human psyche during war time. All the melancholy. All the insanity.
One chapter, man, one chapter has really stuck with me: Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong. There was a movie made about it called A Soldier’s Sweetheart. In this particular short story, a soldier’s girlfriend came into their outpost, which was relatively safe and free of combat.
The girlfriend at first is like any other girlfriend: she was sweet, tended to wounds, and cooked meals. She was innocent.
And that is where the morbid, acrid surroundings of Vietnam gradually invaded this gentle soul. The lady started looking into the jungle, nay…the abyss. Her soul creeped out of her hollowing shell as she made for the jungle to find it, only that she never found it.
She was last seen in the chapter wearing a necklace made of human tongues. Darkness hath consumed her.
A gentle lady moved into a strange, unknown territory and the one thing that died was not her body, but her spirit.
Maybe I’m the lady in this story, ladies and germs. Maybe I’m doomed to submit to the darkness around me, never to be seen again. Florida is indeed going to change me, for better or worse.
God, I should stop being so dramatic.