Whenever I hear Further Seems Forever’s wistful “Snowbirds and Townies”, it reminds me of the time I spent in Boca Raton, Florida. It’s funny how a song can remind you of a moment in the past, even if that song was written long after the event. The song evokes strong memories for me because the band is from Boca Raton and also the lyrics remind me of people from Florida. I remember the winters when all the snowbirds from points North would arrive and all the sudden everything was crowded from the resturaunts to the roads. I remember the “bridges, and traffic, and inlets, are locked in their fight.” I remember the “townies,” those people who lived in Florida year-round. I remember people in Florida forming brief romances with visiting snowbirds, only to part ways as they returned home.
When I went to work for IBM in Florida for the first time after my freshman year of college, I arrived neither a “townie”, nor a “snowbird.” I was there in the dead heat of summer, when most snowbirds had fled home and when Boca Raton became a sleepy retirement community again. Tying this all back to my posts about dating, I had no interest in starting any short-lived, soon-to-be long distance relationships with any Florida girls. After the end of my last relationship, I was just fine with being single for a while. In fact, after the way things ended, I had boldly declared that I was done with high school girls for good. We all know what happens when I make bold statements, right?
In 1994, I had e-mail, but most of my friends did not. Long-distance phone calls were still relatively expensive. So, exiled from most of the people I knew back in Atlanta, I did what people used to do before all this technology to keep in touch. I wrote letters. Many of my friends were gracious enough to write back and I got all sorts of great mail during the summer, which was a great encouragement when I felt lonely. (I roomed with two of my fraternity brothers during this summer, which was great, because I had friends to do stuff with and talk to, but we were all heading in three different directions in our lives and sometimes it was hard to all be on the same page.) One girl in particular, entering her senior year at my old high school, wrote me the most often. The more letters I got, more I thought, “uh oh, I think someone has a crush on me.” I had no idea what to do, because this was definitely new territory for me. My suspicisions were confirmed when she call me and caught me by surprise by asking me to her high school homecoming dance. Like the arrogant, “educated” college person I was, I politely said no! I was done with high school and it was time to put that part of my life to rest. I wonder if that only made her more determined.
I grew up a little in Florida, having to live on my own with no parents and no dorms. My car broke down while I was there, and I had no one but myself to figure out how to find a mechanic and get it repaired. I learned a lot about being self-sufficent. So, the hot, tropic summer wound down to a close and I returned back to Georgia Tech for my second year of college The headlights of snowbirds filled the freeway in the opposite direction as I left the townies and as I headed back the thought in my mind was “what happens now?” I thought I had closed the door on dating anyone from high school, but someone had managed to wedge her foot into the door before I slammed it shut. All I could think of was “…better things. Like winter flings. And longing after spring has sprung.”