[watch this: i'm gonna drop owl city lyrics like throughout this post like bombs in a war zone. i bet you can't catch them all.]
Yesterday we drove out of Florida. Foreverrrrr.
How do you say goodbye to all of this? How do you take memories, good and bad, all the stories, all the thoughts and feelings, all the crazy pranks and illegal activities and the eventful memorable days and the simple days that are equally important? How can I ever come back? I'm going to miss it all--kids growing up, trees falling down, roads changing and people changing.
No matter where I've gone, this has always been home. From Germany to Jerusalem to Hawaii to France to the Bahamas, every trip has been a collection of pictures and stories to bring home, to share at home. Now what? Are my stories in the West being collected in secret hope that one day I can bring them to Florida again? Or is Florida now just another story? They say that home is where the heart is. That's impossible. My heart is with my family, as we trek across the country. It's in Florida with people that have made me who I am. It's in Portugal with my best friend.
So I suppose it's a good thing that my literal heart is only one piece and is safely inside my body.
Still, it is sad to leave Florida. I've always been proud to live here. I've always bragged about it compared everything else to it. I've always been annoyed by the medical/dental/law students who did nothing but complain about how much they don't like Florida, how they can't wait to finish school to move back west. They missed out on a lot.
How can you ever complain about living near this?
[I took these pictures one time when I was early for institute so I drove the extra five minutes to the beach. It's sad that I can't do that anymore.]
This is a police officer chattin' it up with a high school girl with some skanky clothes on. Yep, I'll miss this.
The next time I see this airport I won't be coming home. I'll be a visitor. I'll be an annoying vacationer, a foreigner marveling at the beauty of the place. I will never wear an ugly button up though.
Coming home from church on Sunday afternoons and experiencing heat that shouldn't be felt by humans. Heat that makes the asphalt so soft that my heels once sank into it (the holes are still there in the parking lot outside the stake center!). Heat that stays trapped in the car, making the seats too hot to sit on and the wheel too hot to touch. Those final seconds standing on the porch getting irritated waiting for someone to bring the keys, to open the door to the sweet relief that is air conditioning.
Sundays just won't be the same.
I'll miss the green everywhere. The trees lining the road and protecting me from the blaring sun.
The sunsets that turn the sky pale, that I take pictures of almost every night, because it's always similar, but it's never quite the same.
I mean really, everything is pretty. Sunrises painted with soft, flowing colors. High noons with strong blue skies and crisp white clouds. Sunsets where the colors turn to water and fade away. Night time where the moon's bright and the sky is always more than one shade of blue.
I'm going to be hard pressed to find a church like this in Vegas:
Stained-glass skyways and crowded six lane highways
If I look back when I begin to leave, will they remember me?
There wasn't a day when I didn't like the Florida weather. It was hot and humid and unstable, but I loved it. I'll miss hurricane season the most, the loud, paralyzing thunder, the torrential downpour making our swale a swimming pool and drowning our plants.
I am not happy about it.
So here I am eating half-cold food because we got rid of our microwave [well, I was when I started writing this]. Something along the lines of Sunday's pork roast leftovers, avoiding the nasty congealed cheese concoction I pathetically tried to warm in a toaster oven. The front room is full of boxes and there are holes in the walls. It's like being in the nature parks--leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures. I can't leave my footprints. But I can't leave nothing.
So I wrote a letter. To an inanimate object. Because I'm going crazy.
Thanks for being the platform where I held the first stage of my life. For bringing the right people to me and for putting the wrong ones into place so that I could learn.
Thanks for that one time that I got lost coming home from the airport and ended up on Marina Boulevard. It never happened again.
I love your skyscrapers at sunset, high up in the penthouse overlooking Miami one one side, the ocean on the other, out on the balcony and the mural on the floor.
The airport, the broad suspension bridge, the lake and the beach where several rivers meet compounded from the spreadsheet.
The cement barriers on the highway engraved with raised pictures of birds and fish, the protectors, keeping us safe. Just like Plantation Police Department and their ever subtle blue signs--are you speeding? we are watching.
Remember that one time Lys and I went to the beach after the wedding and went skinny dipping? And the time we hopped the hotel gate and went swimming in Miami at night and all around us were the traffic and city lights?
The mural of brightly colored paints on the wall, indicating the proximity of the beach. Carter park and playing baseball with seemingly questionable sobriety. The jaywalkers down Sunrise, always darting out with the fierce expression, as though their determination will get them across safely. Does it always?
595 being perpetually under construction my entire life, taking me out to Pembroke Pines, Weston, the Everglades. Crisscrossing highways rising and falling, weaving in and out, always broad and strong. Wide, curving sun soaked roads, neighborhoods shaded by towering oaks and trees rising across the road to meet each other.
Breathing in the ocean air as soon as you get to the big drawbridge, the one that raises up to let the parade of boats decorated with lights pass through.
Nob Hill, Sunrise Boulevard, Sunset Strip, Las Olas, A1A and Old Hiatus Road. I never knew that streets were all supposed to have numbers. How did I ever find my way around?
Everything that I am, I've become here. I am Floridian. My name even rhymes. How can this not be home anymore?
I don't know. But you've been good to me. I am content with who I am, who I've become here. I will miss it though, this Sunshine State. And I hope that wherever I go I can always carry that sunshine with me.
[Title from Early Birdie by Owl City]