Christmas lights on palm trees. CASH FOR GOLD. Manatees with scars from boat propellers. The DiscountAmmoOutlet. Initials in hearts carved into the cement of the sidewalk. People whose job is to stand on the side of the highway in the heat holding signs that advertise the CASH FOR GOLD place. Dear little lizards with curled-up tails. Houses where the garage door is the front door. A man outside the supermarket renting himself out as a personal elf. Flags at half-mast for yet another shooting. Private jets overhead and yachts in the canals. Hurricane-damaged beaches. Sherbet-pink foreclosed condo towers at the mangrove’s edge. The December sun.
And me, for the rest of the year: I am visiting my country’s troubling subtropics and will be back in January.
Top photo: Manatee statue in Christmas baking attire offering Jesus a birthday cake, seen in a front yard in Fort Lauderdale
Bottom photo: Pamphlet seen on my 88-year-old grandfather’s computer desk