My primary physician in Minnesota was the one who first suggested that I move south to keep my hands warm. When I informed him that I was taking his advice, he said, “Good heavens, I was just joking. There are hurricanes and people with guns down there—you don’t want to move there.” However, I had made my decision: I was moving to a tropical paradise where oranges grow in the backyard and palm trees line the boulevards.
Yes, there have been some adjustments. (Did you know that frost is what kills all the bugs in the winter? Or that tarantulas go roaming for romance in the spring?) Creepy Crawlies aside, I have come to love my new, warm habitat. I can feel all the muscles in my neck and shoulders relax when the 90-degree August heat makes contact. I really do love it. My hands are warm. I feel normal. I go swimming without turning blue and the ocean is warm like bathwater during the peak heat of summer.
For me, with the difficulty I have when I am cold, moving south has given me the freedom to take a walk without gloves, or spend extended time outdoors without turning blue and getting little wounds on my fingers. I love being able to head to the zoo for a few hours in October and not bring a jacket. And the sunlight, oh, the sweet sunlight…
I also enjoy the relational warmth of a laid-back culture: When I go to work, my coworkers greet me with a hug, a sideways kiss, and a breakfast taco. There are parties every week, even if we have to make up the reason. Stress is one of the triggers for flaring and Raynaud’s, so it’s nice to live and work in a place where people still take siestas in the afternoon.
My favorite part about living in a tropical paradise, however, is rubbing it in the noses of all of my friends and relatives who remain in the north. For that reason, I’ve included this picture of a palm tree.