Like the caterpillar’s question to Alice, I’ve always found “Who are you?” to be the most difficult one to answer. More so because it has always struck me as less about personal trivia than the more esoteric aspects of personality, like “what are your beliefs,” and “what is your philosophy,” or “what color are the glasses through which you peer at life?” — not to be confused with the question I’m more commonly asked — “what color is the sky on your planet?”
My home is Florida. It’s who I am. But my Florida isn’t tied tightly together by six-lane ribbons of asphalt, or littered with strutting, pastel, multi-million-dollar beach sandcastles. It’s a Florida of scrub palms and sand spurs; of cool December beach breezes, forty-minute four o’clock August thunderstorms, and sultry, honeysuckle-scented summer nights. And when I say Florida, I mean all of it. I’ve lived in every corner of my prickly paradise, from the rusty buckle of the bible belt up in the northeast corner, to a stone’s throw from Ft. Lauderdale’s Slip F-18; from Gainesville’s pines dripping with Spanish moss, to walking distance from where the road ended for Jack Kerouac. I’ve watched the sun rise over the Atlantic and drop into the Gulf on the same day; walked the backroads; raced motorcycles across the Everglades under a full April moon; and awoke, bleary-eyed and cotton-mouthed, on Key West’s Duval Street more than once. I wouldn’t trade those memories for a mountain of gold.