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home will always be here

You might want to bring some popcorn and make sure your kids are occupied, because this is going to be long. In my defense, this is honestly the condensed version. I could have written ten posts for each day that I was there. Except that I can’t really. So here ya go.

Obviously the journey started with the airport. Now I’ve flown a lot in the past few years and spent long hours waiting for planes, eagerly anticipating arriving at my final destination. But this was absolutely and completely different. Every time I thought about arriving in Florida my heart would literally start racing. I had to force the thought out of my head to prevent myself from dying of an exploding heart. It was really hard to do. The thought of seeing old friends and faces, of feeling humidity and sunshine, every sensation that used to be commonplace and was now rare and eventful—it was all just too exciting. I tried to distract myself with other things—I half listened to a guy in the Army who was going somewhere…to his home or to training or maybe off to war, I really don’t know. Terrible, right? Other things were easier to pay attention to. Eavesdropping on other people’s phone conversations, for example—how they say “well, I’ll let you go” at the end of a conversation when what they really want to say is “please stop talking, I’d like to hang up now”. I also like to people-watch and guess who people are or where they’re going based on how they’re dressed and what their carry on looks like [aka judging people. yep.] I also noticed that being in “zone two” is more like being in zone eighteen. There's pre-boarding, families with little kids, armed service members, elite people, platinum, gold, priority, and then zone one. Though I may have only noticed this because waiting in line made me restless. That layover, that second flight, those five minutes where the plane has landed but passengers can’t take off their seatbelts—those were the longest, most endless stretches of time.

When I was on the plane I started writing things in my notebook and the guy across the aisle asked if I was taking notes on the safety demonstration. Right. Sorry, sir, but I can actually quote the entire Delta safety video word for word. As can every one of my siblings. I’m just trying to do something to help combat my lack of patience.

Finally, finally, I got there. I got off of the plane and in that one foot if space between the plane and the jet way all my dreams came true. The humidity hit me, feeling exactly the way I’d imagined, soaking into my skin and making my brittle hair go back to normal. The warm sunshine spilled over my face and I wanted to skip through the airport, loving my life already and knowing that it was just going to get better from here.

And it did. It was almost perfect. Except that my ride home from the airport wasn’t very excited to see me.

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Okay maybe he was a little bit.

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It didn’t matter though because everyone else was excited:IMG-20110921-00477IMG-20110921-00476

[banner by Emily and Cathy]IMG-20110921-00470

We drove around with the windows down and the sunroof open (my choice, not his) underneath the bright sun, wind whipping my hair around, all of it reminding me of Jada and how frequently she and I would drive around just for the sake of driving, blasting Party Rock Anthem or another equally loud, bass-driven song. IMG-20110921-00474

For as much anticipation and excitement as I’d held, none of it seemed unfamiliar. In a lot of ways I felt like I’d never left—like Texas, the accident, the funeral, was all just a really long, really bad dream. We drove past my old house and I could have almost believed we’d still lived there. IMG-20110921-00471

My street, my sunshine, my familiar weather making my clothes sticking to me just like the days of marching band and soccer practice. It felt like going home.

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I swear, the skies are really bluer there.

That night I had dinner with some of my favorite people. 298545_685050602992_205103907_34774258_1523846445_n318592_685050493212_205103907_34774255_239662600_n

It was in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, right across the street from the beach. Driving through the heart of the city at night was mesmerizing, as always, and reminded me of so many memories. So many crazy activities with so many different people, so many emotions I’d felt here—the most prominent one being happiness. And I felt it again that night.

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It wasn’t until I walked up to the restaurant that I started to feel a little nervous. There have been some people that have been really awkward and weird around me since the accident—like they don’t know what to say or how to act and it sort of sucks. Because all I want is for people to be normal, to keep being my friends. I walked inside, worried that it might be the same way here.

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Completely unnecessary. It was wonderful. People were normal; they acted like I’d never left. Like it was just our big group going out for dinner. Occasionally people would shout questions at me about where we were living, what I was doing with my life, you know—the usual. But it wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward. I felt so content, so peaceful. I didn’t even mind when the mocked me for being barefoot [like always] and having black feet.

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I didn’t even mind when they told the waiter that it was my birthday, followed by loud singing and clapping, some embarrassing dancing, and a complimentary ice cream.

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After dinner we crossed the street and sat on the beach wall for a while. I’m sure everyone was just hanging out like normal people, but not me. I was secretly inhaling as much of the ocean breeze as I could, filling my lungs with the familiar salty air, relishing in the cool wind, zoning out and ignoring my friends because I had the beach. What a freak.

But I was so happy.

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Also I sort of had a hard time keeping my eyes open for the pictures. It was one of those things that I had absolutely no control over. 294238_685051975242_205103907_34774296_1003904997_n

The night was marvelous. I can’t believe how much I missed that place and those people. It was one of those nights where I wanted to bottle up the feelings of elation and save it for a sad day.

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The next morning, after a crazy morning run with Cathy, I got to go back to the girls’ elementary school. To sum it up, it was…emotional. Probably because every teacher/office aide/principal/etc. was female and several of them cried just when I walked in the room. Ha.

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It was weird being back there, because it seemed like just a few days ago that I was there being the mom for award ceremonies. I walked down the  hall where my kindergarten classroom was, and guess what—it smells exactly the same. Some things are…unforgettable. Ha.

I went back to El Casa De Nuñez to prepare for further activity and felt that feeling from the days of walking home from school where you walk into the heavily air conditioned houses and they’re significantly less humid inside and it feels like a complete change of atmosphere just walking in the door. I love it. I miss it. The houses are completely different here—doors that open out instead of in for hurricane safety, huge windows in every room inviting in the streaming sunlight, hall closets full of beach towels, sunblock, and goggles, ready at a moment’s notice for last minute trips to the beach.

I made time for one of those last minute trips. My pale skin was cravin’ some sun.IMG-20110922-00515

IMG-20110922-00516 Good ol’ Opa-locka Boulevard—where my band director got shot in the head…I love you Florida.

The drive from Sunrise to Miami reminded me of some of the reasons that I love Florida. Some unconventional reasons, to be sure, but real reasons nonetheless. You know, the over priced houses, the way people aren’t friendly to strangers, the heat and the humidity, the way people treat highways like race tracks, working hard to see who can cut off more people, who can weave in and out more, who can get to their destination first.

And then there was Miami with it’s own distinct characteristics. You know, people who’ve mastered the art of not looking at other people, roads crammed with cars and brightly colored buildings stacked on top of each other, gas being $3.79 just because it can be, people sending their non-Jewish kids to Jewish schools because it’s hip, beach wear and heels both being acceptable wardrobes, attractive, shirtless men running through the streets that wind around in no real order and make no sense because Florida doesn’t believe in grid systems. It’s all rather ridiculous and I love it. It’s weird that this is where I belong, where I comfortable—with people that aren’t outgoing, that are kind of stuck up and a little bit snobby, but I love this place. Love.

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We had a delicious, overpriced lunch underneath the welcoming sunshine, the persistent ocean breeze keeping us company. IMG-20110922-00522IMG-20110922-00524IMG-20110922-00525

Then we made our way to the beach. IMG-20110922-00545

Ohhhhh the beach. My best friend.IMG-20110922-00546

I traipsed across the burning sand—barefoot, of course—with a towel draped over my arm and my bangs blowing in my face, spread out my towel and absorbed sun like a pro, missing the days where this was a routine. IMG-20110922-00562

New folder

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The beach time wasn’t long enough; it couldn’t have ever been long enough. We fought our way through the nasty rush hour traffic, past the airport nearly getting hit by landing airplanes, across the overpasses that rise up over the other roads, intertwining and criss-crossing back and forth. I even missed those stupid pastel colors that they paint the highways.

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Guess what kind of car is hip to drive in Florida…

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I jumped in the shower, reveling in the way it feels to have cool water rinsing away the stickiness of the salt stuck to my skin, having cool clothes pressed to my sunburned skin, my hair only being partially dry before going out. My friend got there to pick me up and seeing her standing there in her yellow checkered shirt I got all choked up for a minute. I tried to brush it off and pretended I had another important thing to do before I said hi to her. There really are people in my life that would literally do anything they could for me and sometimes I can see it in their faces. And sometimes when I see them I get a little teary eyed. I got teary eyed a lot this weekend. I regained my composure and joined her and her family for a wonderful night.

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I saw about a billion people that I loved and missed. DSC_0118DSC_0109

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It was seriously the best night ever. How could it not be? It was pretty much everyone that loved me in a place that I love with some pretty good food. Formula for success.

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I had this excited electricity coursing through my veins the whole night. It was so thrilling, seeing friends that felt like family. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole night.

Even the kids had fun.

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The restaurant was packed with people—people that have supported me from a distance in every way they can.

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And, of course, my loyal blog readers :)

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Honestly, I think there were about a million people there.

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It was wonderful and happy and I think I tripled the restaurant's revenue for the evening.

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I didn’t really get to talk to everyone, but it was cool just to see everyone’s faces, to feel like I was just at a stake activity and everyone that was hip showed up.

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[photocred for all Lime photos goes to Andrea]

To keep up with the hip-ness, we hit up Yogurtland for the after party, just like old times.

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Sometimes I’m not sure if these people are friends or family. Sometimes the lines get blurred. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter.

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When I’d had my fill of frozen yogurt and good company, I met up with this [underage] stud and spent the night with his family, which is another one of my second families.

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They were all pretty excited about it:

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I mean, who gets this kind of love via Facebook? I do.

Being at their house felt like being at home. We sat in the kitchen talking and listening to music and being content to be in each other’s company. We stayed up way past my bedtime and they didn’t even get offended when I fell asleep on the couch ten minutes into the movie. That’s how you know they’re real friends.

Well…in an attempt to not make this entry a novel I’m gonna stop here for now. I realize that it’s only two out of the five days and that you’re surely going to be hanging in suspense. Sorry about that. IMG-20110923-00626

A huge thank you to everyone who was in Florida looking out for me. For all the people that offered me places to stay, cars to drive, food to eat, and above all, constant love and support that hasn’t changed since I left. I love you guys. I love that Florida still feels like home, that I still feel like I have family there. I miss you already.

[Title from Umbrella Beach by Owl City]

7 comments:

  1. I love you Brid!!!

    Your post made me so homesick I'm so excited that you got to have such a wonderful time with those beautiful people! And are you kidding, florida doors open up outside for hurricane protection, how could I not know that?! makes so much sense. Seeing your old house brought back so many funny memories of sleepovers and Alicia jumping on the trampoline in her underwear bahaha. <3 mybree

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  2. Love this ! Glad that your doing well! Xoxo.

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  3. You know, I have been seeing one thing consistent in your post, you almost always have your shoes off! I mean, I hate wearing my shoes(occasionally) unless they are my sports shoes, in which case, bring on the basketball and a full size court with it! :) But it almost seems like you just WALK around WITHOUT your shoes on. :) Just playing around with ya! Oh and by the way, we are planning on coming to TX early November, so we might be able to stop in and see you guys, might not saying that it is all set in stone, but there are a couple things that we have to take care of first, mainly a Eagle Board of Review(mine! finally) Poseidon help us, a black belt test for me and my brother, so soon too! :) Well sorry for taking up so much space, its kinda of a habit now, you know the whole blogger thing can do that to you:) Great post, glad you had fun in Florida. Talk to soon hopefully.
    Braeden

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  4. I loved this post because I was missing Florida and reading this Totally took me back! Your words are rich with imagery :) How wonderful to get to go back for awhile.
    P.S. What happened to your band teacher??!

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  5. Bridian, you took all the things I love and miss most about Florida and wrapped them up in a blog post that I am going to bookmark and read whenever I am down or freezing to death. I miss Florida, too! Not the hurricanes and rude people, but everything else.

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  6. Oh, this made me miss Florida even more than I already do!! I am so glad you got to go and visit. I love your leopard print cardigan!

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  7. Your writing is actually amazing, Brid. I could feel so much emotion in this post. I loved it. :) So happy that you got to visit, even if I didn't even know!

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