i moved from Orlando to Charlotte when i was 17. my Dad got a job transfer my senior year in high school. i was a relatively “good” kid growing up so my parents gave me the option to stay in Orlando with my best friend’s family and finish my senior year – OR – move with them to Charlotte; the unknown; a million miles away from everything i had ever known. i didn’t even blink when they gave me my two choices: what idiot would leave Orlando their senior year?! i had a boyfriend, a great tan, a wonderful job working with kids, a bunch of amazing friends, was apart of a cool youth group, went to the beach all the time, you get it – life was kinda cool in Florida. i told everyone who asked me that “i was thinking/praying about moving with my parents”. but the truth was i never even slightly had considered moving to Charlotte. not even a little.
me circa 1998 – gotta love the 90′s
New Smyrna Beach 1998: my brother Nick, April, Jenn & me (brown as the day is long)
long story short, 3 days before my parents left i kind of had a breakdown…..errr encounter with the Lord(?) i had been out late with friends and when i came home my Dad had left a piece of paper on my bed that had a picture of some cheesy sailboats and this:
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
- André Gide
still to this day i have no idea why this broke me, but it did. i fell apart that night and started frantically throwing my stuff into boxes. it was like the future, potential Jessie took over and knew something that the present Jessie was too naive & immature to know. my soul needed to lost sight of the shore i had always been on. my soul longed for change and risk and adventure but my heart and mind were too terrified to ever push off the dock. something took over that night and packed my boxes. i know 17 year old Jessie never would have done it on her own. but whoever did it, i’m indebted to.
so yeah…..3 days later i got in my band-stickered 1991 Honda accord hatchback (complete with zebra-print seat covers) and cried the entire length of the state of Florida and into the arms of the unknown; the arms of the Queen City. i’m glad i left that day. i have grown much and learned much and changed so much. but i am and always will be a Florida girl. always. so when i return there’s a big part of me that comes alive. for however weird and ridiculously smoldering hot Florida is, it’s still my home and i will forever love and appreciate it’s strangeness and beauty.
and with that here’s the second half of my recent Florida fling:
the kids and i stayed 2 nights with my second parents The Dorn’s in Oviedo. i’m sad i didn’t get pictures of them and the kids. we had a great time and Lynn cooked me some of the best food of my life. they are one of the only people/places from my childhood that are still in the same house. it’s refreshing to have a familiar place to return to; that feels safe and makes you remember your childhood. (sorry no pictures from their house).
next stop – Palm Beach Gardens
one of my best girls Kristina & her doll Adoration
Adoration & Sparrow
Noah isn’t very good at sleeping on beds
just 10 minutes from Kristina’s house is a sea turtle rehabilitation center. we went there.
Adoration had a giant Hello Kitty that Sparrow fell in love with. so one afternoon Sparrow & i went to the mall and got her one too.
driving back to Orlando
stayed our last night with my sweet friends The Monteserin’s
after baths and dinner The Monteserin’s volunteered to babysit and sent me out the door. I met up with their son (my favorite Puerto Rican) Stephan to attend an art show he was throwing. I arrived at his house (where he lives with like 12 other people) and was tickled to see that his bed is perched atop a working jacuzzi. seriously.
Stephan works at an eclectic little coffee shop called Credo – which is where he was putting on the art show. upon arrival i demanded a cappuccino or a nap – because i was so freaking tired. he obliged with a capp and i woke up enough to enjoy the evening. i met so many people and answered the same questions a hundred times: How do you know Stephan? What do you do? What are you doing in Florida? i had a great time. and came home to this:
next morning we ate some breakfast and had a bit of a meltdown getting out the of the house, but once we were on the road the kids fell asleep and all was right in the world again. Unfortunately we hit hours of stop and go traffic on 95, which turned the 8 hour drive into a 12 hour drive. thank the Lord for car DVD players and Walt Disney. between Cars, Cars2 and Finding Nemo we survived the traffic nightmare. until i blew a tire 20 minutes outside of Charlotte. CUSS!
my brother Nick who lives in Rock Hill came to my rescue with a couple of friends. and then Mark showed up too. i had 4 guys fixing my flat on the side of the road. i was so tired i could barely talk. but they changed the tire and i headed home to sleep soundly in my own bed.
it was an epic trip and i’m glad i took it. i am already planning another one. have to get back to see Kristina again. Hopefully i can convince some other friends to join me this time?!
people, we really do have to lose sight of the shore if we hope to explore new oceans.