Because Florida is You

When we met in 1998, I knew you were different than anyone else I had ever known. The way you looked at me, you could see right through me, you knew me. And it was instanteous. I could never keep things from you, or do anything other than just be myself around you. 

At 16 years old, you scared me to death. You were so uniquely intense. We attempted to date for a few weeks, but I wasn’t emotionally ready for any of how I felt toward you. So like most 16 year old girls when they can’t figure things out, I friend zoned you… because I could never explain us. I couldn’t give what we were, a definition. I couldn’t explain why our first kiss; with me in the drivers seat of my car and you sitting in the door jam felt like a movie moment, when I truly barely knew you. But us not dating did not slow us down from spending as much time together as we could.  You didn’t make me strong, you brought out my strengths. You didn’t make me try new things, we learned things together. We could talk for hours, about any and everything. You saw things in the same colors I did. I loved that you could carry on a conversation about football and Shakespeare. You felt no need to be stuck in any specific category. 

It never mattered what we were doing, we made all of it fun. We would sit out on the sand in front of the Gulf and daydream about far away places, yet we never took for granted the beauty right in front of us. We swam at all hours of the night, in the warm salt water. Laid in the sugar sand and stared at the moon. We skipped school on pretty days because passing the beach exit was just not an option. When it would get cold, we would sit on the bottom steps of the boardwalk, I would lean back against you and you would wrap me up and keep me warm. I’ve written a thousand times about standing up out of the sunroof, the Black Crowes playing, you driving and holding on to me but I’ve never said it was you. You made sure I got home from parties safely, even if you had to pick me up and carry me out solely because you would never let me miss curfew. You had told my dad you were bringing me home, and you always did. I dated other people, so did you. But whoever we dated was simply supposed to accept our strange relationship. It wasn’t going anywhere. I’ve written about you so many times, and never made that clear, the moment just never was right. Until now.

We really only knew each other about 18 months during high school, yet you are in all of my memories. Any time I think back, you’re there. Every time I’ve gone home over the last 20 years, I look for you. I call to see if you happen to be going home. Even when I know you aren’t there, sometimes I swear I’ve seen you. If only in a memory. 

When I left to go in the Air Force, you were one of the hardest people in my life to say goodbye to. But we never really said goodbye. You wrote me more letters than anyone while I was gone, sending me pieces of home. When I called my mom to tell her I had orders to come back to Hurlburt Field, she was ecstatic. Then she told me that you had been over to the house a few days before, and decided that since I was gone, you were leaving too. You had just enlisted in the Navy. I cried myself to sleep that night, and in the morning, I decided it was time to go see the world. People don’t really meet their soul mate in high school, do they? 

I’ve been so many places now, but there’s never been a road I’ve stood on, that I didn’t have a momentary thought of how cool it would be to stand there with you.  My children have known your name since I could tell them stories of my younger self. Over the last 20 years we have both been through so much and seen so many things. And when moments were extremely good or insanely bad, it was always each other we went to. Marriage news was met with happy, painful tears. Babies. Death of loved ones. And as if it could be sensed, it would be months without talking, we always called at the right moment. When my little brother was getting married 3,000 miles away from me and I couldn’t make it to see him, all it took was one phone call and you were there to represent. You’ve scooped me up so many times, brushed off the dirt and made me smile again. 

When I found that I couldn’t stop thinking about you and calling you… you came to see me. We were both realizing that we had spent a lot of time trying to put a weird label on a relationship that is actually quite simple. I love you. I have always loved you. And the way you look at me, is different than any look I’ve ever been given. The last few months with you, there haven’t been words beautiful enough to give. Jameson & Vinyl… is our space. A new journey down a familiar road. The reason I could never figure out who you are to me… is because you’re not one thing. You are my best friend. My person. My lazy Sundays and rowdy Fridays. Your arms around me at the bottom of the boardwalk is how I flashback to Florida. It always has been. Florida is home. You are Florida… Home is you. 🐸

Wave After Wave

img_3608Thanksgiving week was an interesting one for me. One full of reflection, thankfulness, relaxation and even some new frustrations. Driving south through Alabama, into the Florida panhandle was beautiful as always. It never disappoints. But arriving at my grandparents house felt like a long awaited trip home. Although I am able to go down there a few times a year, this time felt different. It felt like I was supposed to be back there.

img_3609Within minutes of walking in the door, both Haleigh and Faith had jumped right in and started cooking with Grandma. They had been talking about cooking the whole ride down, and how much they love to sit at her table with her, chatting, chopping, and tasting life. When I was their age, that was always my favorite part of the day with my mom. After school I got undivided attention for about an hour as I sat at the table doing my homework and she made dinner. Sometimes I helped, but those conversations were always the best. Watching my daughters eager to do it with their grandmother made me feel like with all the change and craziness in our lives right now, I am still doing something right with them. It was much needed reassurance, for me.

img_3621After an extremely long summer, I was surrounded by family that I love very much. This year though, I was very aware of the people who were not present. Things have changed drastically around the img_3612Thanksgiving dining room table. It’s weird for something that is so very much the same… to be so different. It’s also strange to feel so much missing, and yet feel so surrounded at the same time. Family is kind of great like that. We played/fought/argued through a couple of board games, watched football, ate entirely too much food, and enjoyed the day. But there’s kind of a new hole in me, where you belong. Knowing you were with family 700 miles away in Houston was comforting, but I became strangely aware of how much I fullsizerenderlove having you around. And how wonderful it feels when you’re with me, when I am with family. Because that’s what you’ve always been. I tried to shake that out of my head as much as possible, because there’s a future there full of great moments, and I needed to take the time to enjoy where I was at.

The weather was incredibly warm, bright and shiny 76 degrees outside. Acorns and leaves falling from the huge oak trees, the only hint at fall. It didn’t take us too long to decide that instead of going shopping Friday we were definitely going to head to the beach. If you’ve never had pumpkin pie and then jumped in the Gulf of Mexico… put it on your list of things to do, because it doesn’t get too much better than that.

It’s always hard to leave my Grandparent’s house. Hard to cross back into Alabama and keep the car pointed North. It has such a tendency to try to turn around. Until next time Florida. xxxooo

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When My Car Aims for Florida

floridaThere’s a route in my soul, that I know in my very core. I don’t need GPS, or an atlas. I can get there from anywhere on the planet. Just knowing I am headed there changes things inside of me. There’s a nostalgia that rolls through me, an adrenaline, an ache. I get antsy to leave, just to be on the road with my car aimed at Florida. I’ve been away for so long, yet it’s always back to her safe arms when I need grace and mercy from the roads I travel. She’s a lighthouse, through the hurricanes. A humid, thick sky full of stars, scented with pine, and sand, and salt. She’s an angry thunderstorm rolling in across the Gulf to renew an afternoon. I can feel the pull, my heart is ready. It’s The Black Crowes pouring through the windows.It’s sand in my floorboards that never comes out.

florida2It’s the promise of seeing my Grandparents. Pulling into a driveway that doesn’t change, in a world that changes every second. It’s my daughters in their busy lives with boyfriends and school and constant texting… it’s telling them we are going to Florida and watching them pack at lightning speed because they share that same ache. It’s saying I am leaving on Friday and actually leaving on Wednesday because 3 days just isn’t long enough. It’s where I met you, oh so many years ago. It’s fireworks and lottery tickets. It’s the echo of my mother’s voice calling us in for dinner. My brother, sister and me together, racing, running, playing, fighting. It’s childhood dreams of places far away. It’s trying to get back there ever since. It’s home. It’s Thanksgiving.

Because There Must Be a Beginning

img_3391Like all journeys, there’s a jumping off, or starting point. As there is with this journey, the one I am going to take you on. But what gets left behind occasionally is the how comes, the whys, the explanations, ahhhh the prequel. The reason for the journey. I suppose I am getting a bit ahead of myself, and in doing so, am tangling these words all together.

I have been in the blogging world for the last five years, and spent my whole life writing. My writing doesn’t define me, but it does however, free me. I started blogging 5 years ago when I was going through a separation and didn’t want to continuously vent to family members. My blog was called Xanax or Running Shoes. Because for me, it was a daily choice, and trust me, the running shoes did not always win out.

img_3481As the last five years went by, the marriage patched itself, fell apart, patched itself, and then eventually became too much mental stress for me to handle. As I begin new chapters of my life, I felt it necessary to start fresh. Begin anew. Give myself space to write words that inspired me to the core.

img_3390I am, if nothing else, a survivor. I have the ability to stand up, dust myself off… and keep going. I have scars. Mental. Physical. Hypothetical. But they make me, me. So, I’m ok with that.

I am aware that I just started a blog with a bunch of inspirational pics and one of me looking like I might not be completely sold on the whole idea, but that about sums it up pretty damn good. There’s a lot of good in my life. And there’s a lot of change on the horizon. Let’s fucking do this. Welcome to Jameson & Vinyl. Kick back, it’s sure to get crazy.