It’s hard to believe it was six years ago when I was enticed by your energy and friendly people, the beauty of your rolling hills, your magnificent embracement of creativity, and of course your history and music. It was six years ago when I began networking, meeting and establishing amazing relationships with others who share my love of music and creativity; six years ago when I sent my first born off to attend his first year of college where he experienced everything I love about you. There will always be a special place in my heart that only you can fill and I will definitely be back from time to time. However, I must tell you that there is another who came along many years before you when I was an infant, a toddler in Miami, a teenager in St. Petersburg and the Keys (both Islamorada and Marathon), an adult in Ormond Beach and Flagler.
My lovely Nashville, when I came to you, I underestimated the hold, the grip on my soul that the ocean had permanently placed on me. Florida's east coast is the geographical location where I can look out and see nothing but the beauty of creation and at the same time prioritize how small I am in comparison to those things in life that seem so big. To say I am a Florida girl with sand in her shoes doesn’t even come close; it’s more like a void in my heart and soul when I’m away from the ocean for very long that ultimately becomes a feeling of slow suffocation. Florida's coast, whether east or west, is not just any ocean; it is the ocean that surrounds me, the ocean where I grew up, the shoreline where I first fell in love at 15 as the sun was setting below the water. It is the sea that helped shape who I am; the water that washes away my weaknesses and strengthens my assurance and belief in a God who loves me even when I don’t deserve it.
Nashville, I hope you won’t feel slighted; there are many things to love about you and I will be back but if I’m honest I have to say your weather leaves me with much to desire and dissatisfaction. Although the area where I live in FL has never been directly hit by a hurricane, I would rather have several days to prepare for one than to feel like I’m playing dodge ball with death (tornadoes). It has been cloudy and raining now since November but when you rain there is rarely lightning and thunder but always unstable winds. Call me weird, but I miss the lightning and thunder; I also miss the sunshine; I will never again complain that 80 degrees and sunny is boring. It's March Nashville and you finally allowed the sun to peak through if only for a day and the wind to die down a little to facilitate sitting outside. However, my allergies are so bad from all of your beautiful blossoming flora, that when I'm with you I feel as if I have a constant sore throat and sinus infection. I have not been able to wear my contacts for the duration of my time with you and I have never seen dust collect so quickly in all my life. Furthermore, you get your water from the Cumberland River! What? Yikes!
Still, in spite of all that, I know I will miss your people, some of which have now become my friends. I'll miss your music, some of which I have now contributed to. I will miss your young talent that I have had the opportunity to work with and the blessings thereof. I will miss the fact that you seem to be in your own little corner of the world where the economy has not hit as hard; sustained by many colleges and a thriving healthcare industry where important research begins at places like Vanderbilt University. You are in your own little corner of the world where stars are born and on any given day I can see someone famous at Starbucks. Yes, I know I will miss you, and I might even cry a little until I get to see you again, but crying is no comparison to slowly dying from the inside out from homesickness.
My dear Northeast Florida, I'm so sorry I ever left you. If I ever leave you again for more than 2-3 weeks at a time, slap me upside the head! It has, however, been a wonderful, beautiful journey of forward positive motion. I will be back soon, 16 days, and I will drive three miles from my home to your shore and bring my boogie board to your waves hopefully experiencing the thrill of being carried by your power to the sand. I will drink your water knowing that it comes from an underground aqueduct. During Labor Day this year I will remember that last year you offered 13 degrees cooler air temperature than Nashville and are usually cooler than most parts of the country during the summer because of your ocean breeze. I will let your salt cleanse me; put my hair up in a scrunchie in response to your humidity knowing that no-one would ever recognize me while I'm at the beach, the whole time not caring that I am probably the oldest woman there in a bikini. I will relish in the fact that 7 months of the year there is no need for heat or air and my windows will be open, curtains blowing softly with the southern breeze. I will relish in the fact that your winds usually blow in one direction not around in circles like Nashville. I will sit on my front porch that faces south and slightly east and watch the sun come up while the bright green tree frogs find their daytime hiding place. Better yet, I might even drive three miles to experience your sunrise front and center and eat breakfast at the Flagler Pier. At night, I will hear nothing as I drift off to sleep in my Vera Wang bed. Oh yes! I have missed home; the home that I built 16 years ago and the place where I raised my children. I have missed Florida and must, beyond a shadow of a doubt, return.