top of page

You are reading

Growing up in South Florida

A case submitted by

Maya Sikora

When I was a young girl, I remember having a couple friends that were more attuned to the outdoors than I was and I remember loving hanging out with them because we got to play outside. There was a tree that we would climb together and we called it “mother oak tree” because it was huge and I really enjoyed those times. I remember being jealous of those friends in elementary school who I associated with playing outdoors because they got to be more connected to the outdoors than I was. I grew up doing gymnastics. 

Gymnastics is an inside sport. I got plenty of stimulation with all the colors and learning to control the movement of my body as a kid, but it was all indoor activities, which I think was why I was so drawn to my friends who played outside. I feel like those are some of my best memories even now of being a kid, playing in the park with those friends and our “mother oak” tree. I'm not even sure if it really was an oak tree. I don't know what kind of tree it was. I remember in that same park one day finding a banana spider, which is a big spider that's black and yellow and had a big web and it was in the middle of one of the paths in the park. The spider was big and scary, but nothing happened. It just was there. And again, I'm not sure if it was really a banana spider or if that's just what we called it because it was yellow. 

My parents like to talk about how when I was a baby we used to live by the beach, but then when they had my brother, we moved more inland. I spent so little time at the beach as a kid I don’t have many memories of going, except for the one summer my brothers and I did surf camp. I had to wear sunscreen every day and bathing suits and it was fun. I had sand everywhere but I got to be out in the ocean and live out the beachy surfer fantasy for a couple weeks, which was cool. The Florida heat at the time wasn't as bad, at least I don't remember it being as bad. 

What I find interesting about hurricanes and Florida or at least Boca is that we haven't had a really horrible one hit us in a really long time. I remember some of the worst ones from when I was a kid were Wilma and Katrina. Katrina didn't hit us as bad as it hit Louisiana that's for sure but I remember at least one of those, maybe it was Wilma, cut our power. We had to go stay with our family, my cousins, in a different town because they still had power or they had a generator. I remember that trip being kind of fun because we didn't spend a lot of time with those cousins. The oldest was one of my few female cousins and I really looked up to her and I had a really fun time sleeping over. We've also had family friends come stay with us once we got a generator and hurricane proof windows. During hurricane season, traveling is somewhat precarious because you just don't know if you're going to have a storm. October seems to be when most of them are headed towards us. A lot of the Hurricanes more recently seem to look like they're going to come towards the east coast of Florida and then they swing around and hit the Gulf Coast instead or they hit Puerto Rico and then they die down. Makes me feel kind of grateful that I didn't grow up on the west coast of Florida. 

When I was in high school we had this freak tornado and because my high school was in Florida, all of the hallways were outside. The school was several buildings that were only a couple stories high and there were no indoor hallways. So when you were walking from class to class you were outside. Frequently you were covered, which helped with the rain because it rained a lot when I was in high school. I carried an umbrella and I had rain boots and a towel in my car. The day of this tornado, I had gotten dropped off at school and I was getting my things together before the first class of the day and it started getting windy. It was a gray morning, not unlike many other mornings that we have in Florida so I didn't think much of it. And then it got really really windy. There were these strong gusts of wind. I started feeling like I was Dorothy at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz. In my mind it was creepy and strange and somewhat magical (as nature always is in a way). I was on the second floor and there was a railing, thank goodness, so I didn't get thrown off of the building. I hit the railing with all my stuff and one of the teachers was there and saw me outside and a couple of other students and pulled us into her classroom. We stayed there for a bit and then one of the transformers on campus blew so the wifi and the lights went out. I had to contact my parents to come pick me up again because school was canceled. I'll never forget that moment of having to be pulled into a classroom because of a tornado, which felt like such a freak thing to happen in Florida. We're more known for hurricanes and flooding, not for this. I think it was about 2015 or 2016 when that happened.


Have a Story to Share?

bottom of page