I intended to post this last week, however, time got away from me so I am just now getting to it.
3 years and one week ago today (Halloween 2009) around noon we drive into Orlando for the first time. We had been on the road from Oklahoma City for 3 days. Me and the kids in the van and Anthony driving the moving truck with his car in tow. I was so glad to be done with the drive, but very apprehensive about the “adventure” we were about to embark on.
Everything was strange. We moved into a house I had never seen (although not the first time we’d done that…actually the 3rd), to a place I had only been once (and even then only on Disney property for 2 or 3 days in high school), a place where I didn’t know a soul, into a neighborhood that was “in the boonies”, my husband now traveled for work on a regular basis, and even the weather, trees, bugs and wild life were different from what I had known. For the first time in my life I was living more than a 4 hour drive from any family. It had been a whirl wind decision to move, and many mornings I remember waking up and thinking….”holy cow, we live in Florida.”
I had expected to come to this place and be in awe of its beauty…instead? Truthfully much of it I found ugly. I spent the first 6 months of our living here wondering why we had come here and reminding myself that we only intended to stay for 18 months to 2 years. I could do that.
Then, I turned 30. The day before my 30th birthday I was completely depressed. Anthony was having to travel and would be gone for 2 days – leaving the morning of my birthday. I felt as if I didn’t have any friends who would know it was my birthday and would fill in for my absent husband…and I certainly didn’t want to post a pity party about it on Facebook to get attention. So while complaining to Anthony about it he said…”then come with me!” I hesitated for a few minutes because it would cause Bella to miss 2 days of school, but soon decided she was in Kindergarten. What could it hurt? By the evening of my 30th birthday I found myself on Fort Myers beach watching the sunset into the Gulf.
By the next afternoon when we were on our way home I had begun to see Florida in an entirely different light.
A few weeks later summer vacation began and we spent that summer exploring various areas of Florida while we traveled with Anthony. His work took us from the capitol city to Key West. We explored. We found places we liked and places we loved. By the end of that summer I had fallen completely in love with Florida.
I love that it seemed we spent so much more time as a family here because it seemed as if there was more here for us that we all enjoyed doing together. I love that we can drive an hour or two in any direction and find a new adventure – or a mini vacation. I fell in love with the ocean and its calming waves. I found I am happiest with sand in my toes and sea breeze in my hair. And as I began to fall in love with my surroundings I opened myself up to the people I had met and began to make truly good friends who now even though I am still sad at the distance between us and family have become a second family to us.
Before moving here all the places we have lived as a married couple have always been temporary, with the exception of Oklahoma City (where we moved right after Law School), we knew they would be temporary. When Anthony graduated from law school and we moved to Oklahoma City I expected to feel settled. I expected to make a home. It never felt like home. I never felt settled. When we moved here I expected this to be temporary. I never intended for this to be home – but it is. When we moved here I found home. It took a few months but Florida is where my heart is. Florida is my home.