Goodbye Column: Kayla Casillas
CREDIT: Kayla Casillas
Many Florida-grown, newly appointed Gator girls step onto the Gainesville scene the week before their freshman year fall semester begins and are… disillusioned. Dizzied by the moving process, but mostly by the sticky, sweet, inland heat. They settle in, look around, and wonder where the familiar urban sprawl of Miami or Orlando — or in my case, Tampa — went. They look up, around, back down at their phones, and up again. There’s something enchanting here, but it can sometimes seem too hard to find. To a rookie, “Gainesville sucks,” and they “can’t wait to leave.” To me, a woman still just three and a half years wiser, Gainesville sucked me in.
Things are busy here, but nature is slower. The grocery store ceilings are lower and it’s easy to lose yourself in winding, tree-lined streets. By the beginning of junior year, I nestled myself in the faintly witchy and sufficiently wooded outskirts of downtown Gainesville. Held under the persistent hand of hot, swampy steam but refreshed by excellent iced coffees, yummy local eats and — my personal favorite — Crybaby’s cocktails. Always get a negroni.
I’ll forever be grateful to Rowdy for showing me everything that Gainesville can be to an open eye. (I’m convinced fairies live here – most likely in that tree between the Opus Airstream and Satch Squared at fourth ave.) Gainesville, like many of us brooding college girls, is misunderstood. I see her quiet solemnity and whimsy and her yearning for everyone else to see it, too. In my time at Rowdy Magazine, I’ve worked as a Partnerships Coordinator, a Campaign Strategist, and now the Co-Director of Marketing. In seeking out bars and art galleries for us to share our passion project, and a couple of drinks, with the rest of town, I’ve come to learn that it is through our magazine that we can keep telling the folksy stories of these streets. And it is through our magazine that we can make new stories here, too.
To all of Rowdy Nation — I’ve loved being your marketing gal since Vol. 5. To Bella, my Co-Marketing Director — you’re an incredible person and you’ll go even further than you wish. To the future generation of Rowdy — keep searching for Gainesville and never be fully satisfied that you’ve found her. Keep the arts alive here, God knows we need it in between all the studying. And please, let me know if you ever catch an actual fairy.
Speed round tips for becoming friends with this little city:
Go to the events. The Curia on The Drag bulletin board is an excellent place to start.
Don’t let them make you think that all we have is Midtown. The quicker you escape it, the better.
Visit the places by yourself. It’s easy to feel lonely here, but Gainesville is just quiet, is all. She likes to get to know you one-on-one. Any of the nature trails are the perfect venue for such a soiree.
The novelty shops here place their finger precisely on the intersection of old Florida and young art. Visit them. (My favorites are Serpentine, 108 Vine and the Auk Market.)
Go to Ichetucknee Springs and float up the river whenever you can. There’s something in the water there that melts stress right off the skin and invites little blue dragonflies to accompany you upstream.
Wear insane shit! It’s fun and the people love it. I hope upon my future visits back I can find the arts scene pacing up and down Main Street in eccentric Flashbacks finds.
You’re allowed to decorate your apartments, people! And I don’t just mean stolen traffic items. Go crazy, choose glassware, and paint the walls if you can.