Florida, I’m Coming Home…

They say that if you don’t post it on Facebook, it doesn’t happen.  Yeah.. funny how that is.  And I guess in the blogger world, if you don’t broadcast it online, it doesn’t happen either.  Huh?, you may be wondering.  Well, I have news, my friends.  Big news.  Huge.

And, NO, I’m not pregnant!

WE’RE GOING TO MOVE TO FLORIDA!!!!!!

[I realize that this may be an untimely moment to announce it–the Zimmerman verdict and all.  Truthfully, I didn’t have the time to follow the case thoroughly, but I sort of see both sides and truly feel that Zimmerman will meet his maker one day and will suffer for his wrong-doings. Yes, very atypically religious comment for me, but I believe that to be true.  But I think a lot of people are anti-Florida right now.  Oh well…]

Anyway, back to me.  He’s seen enough publicity 😉  Well, back to us–THE GINGRICH’S ARE MOVING TO FLORIDA! It’s in the works, anyway.  We have lists of things to do that are a mile long easily, but a plan is underway.  First things first–the story:

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to make the grueling trek to Florida from Colorado via the good old U.S. highways.  About 2 days and 28 hours of drive time later, we made it all the way to Venice, Florida–my hometown.  I wasn’t born there and only lived there for 8 years, but, in some ways, it’s more home to me than my Colorado home of 19 years will ever be.

The drive was long.  Through Kansas and Missouri, then down into Illinois, Kentucky for a minute, Tennessee and Georgia, then finally into Florida.  Kansas was a drag.  Flat and straight and windy.  When we hit Kansas City, I think we went over a hill or two.  St. Louis was busy and the drivers were territorial.  Hit lots of construction and lost some time in that gross city.  Illinois and Kentucky–nothing to really talk about.  It started getting really humid and, for a second, I got excited and thought we were getting close.  Oh how wrong I was–we were still like 15 hours away!  Then Tennessee.  Beautiful, beautiful state.  Lush and green and just pretty.  Next was Georgia and the start of the craziness.  It was about 6 am and we pulled back onto the highway from a stop for breakfast.  We were in the far left lane minding our own business–Derek was driving.  From a nearby on-ramp comes a big black truck who moves over 3 lanes in one fail swoop.  I saw his tires cross over the line and into our lane and I saw my life flash before my eyes.  Derek had a breakfast sandwich in his hand and couldn’t honk the horn.  I just closed my eyes.  Somehow, someway, the man saw us and moved back over.  I’m not an innately fearful woman, but I was literally shaking for a good 4 minutes after that.  We drove through Atlanta, which was way bigger and busier than I imagined.  For a second, I had a flash to Gone with the Wind and the burning buildings and imagined I was Scarlett running through the streets (I know how silly that sounds).  Also in Georgia was the torrential rain that slowed us down–flooded highways and everything.

In the meantime, my mom was baking us chocolate cake in Florida–thinking that we’d be there in like 6 hours. Oh no!!!!! We finally crossed the Florida line and I instantly got my second wind and was sooo excited.  But short lived because traffic was awful again!  Gainesville was a bitch and we got off on an exit and tried to circumvent the traffic by driving through a town and re-entering the highway.  Not so sure that was a good idea.  When we were about 2 hours away from Venice, Ella started falling apart.  Poor kid was strapped into her car seat for like 12 hours at that point.  So we had to make multiple stops within the last 2 hours to avoid screaming tantrums in the back seat. When we finally pulled into my mom’s driveway, I think Derek and I started laughing for a second and then got out of the car.  Holy crap.  What a journey!  And to think we did it again when we drove home!!!  Never. Again.  {Well, until we move.}

The grocery-getter overlooking Tampa Bay:

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So, Florida…  It was hauntingly beautiful.  If you get the chance, read my post We All Have a Story. It explains why I left Florida at 16.  I’m haunted by memories and regret, but believe it or not, the hauntings are good hauntings and not the scary kind.  They keep me grounded.  Anyway, the weather just sucked.  Sunny mornings and then afternoon downpours.  But that didn’t stop me from getting out and showing my family my town.  The very first place we visited was the North Jetty.  It’s the jetty that is off of Venice Beach. We saw fireworks there as kids.  Our grandfather fished on this jetty.  I hung out with friends and went on dates on this jetty.  Truly, it’s nothing fancy, but it’s home to me.  I haven’t been there in 20 years, but when we pulled in, it felt as if I had never left.  It was exactly as I remembered it.  It was raining when we arrived.  I kept the car running and got out of the car.  Derek and Ella just sat there.  I stood outside and got pelted by the rain and splashing surf from the rocks.  I closed my eyes and breathed in.  My eyes welled with tears, and then I opened them again.  Home.  Memories.  Home.  I am tearing up as I write this.  I don’t know how else to explain it, but it was beautiful.  I got it together and got back in the car.  Derek never took his eyes off of me as I did all this.  I got into the car and he just stared at me.  “This is home,” I said.  And he smiled.

This is the view of Nokomis Beach, which is directly across the waterway of the jetty.

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We spent some great days at the beach–running back and forth between the sand and the water.  Ella marveled in watching the coquinas bury themselves back in the sand as the waves rolled in and out.  She marveled in this as my sister and I did when we were little girls.  She and Derek made sand castles for Ariel as I collected sea shells.  She met her Grammie (my mother) for the first time.  They cooked together, read stories, pretended to be underwater princesses fighting off “ocotopusses”, and laughed.  Ella also met my Aunt Claire for the first time.  She and Gigi (my grandmother, Ella’s great grandmother–GG–Gigi) came down from New Port Richey, and we had a good old time.  They laughed and Ella cried (no nap that day), but it was fun to be around family. We grilled chicken on an electric grill in the rain.   Derek fixed my mom’s water heater, switched out some light bulbs, and diagnosed a busted compressor on her A/C unit.  Even though we were miles from home, we felt inexplicably comfortable and like we were home.

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So… after a short discussion, we decided we are going to do it.  We’re going to leave our home and the lives we’ve built here and start over.  Sounds scary when I put it that way, doesn’t it?  It is scary.  We have a house to sell.  We have careers we’re leaving behind.  We’re comfortable here.  We have friends whom we adore.  And I have my sister and her family.  She holds the other half of my heart.  We have nearly 20 years, over half of my lifetime, of memories here.  But it’s time for a change.  We want to live near the beach and we can actually afford to there.  We want a slower pace and a more relaxed way of life.  We want to run  around bare-footed every day.  I want to grow old gracefully with humidity and oily skin.  I want sea kayaks and fishing poles and a pick-up truck to throw it all in.  I want to have sand in the crotch of my bathing suit at least once a week.  I want to be closer to my mom.  I want there to always be beach towels and chairs in the trunk of my car.  I  want to go to the jetty, close my eyes, breathe it in, remember the old memories, and embrace in the joy of making new ones.

Have a wonderful week, friends 🙂

xoxox ~M

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