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Ten years ago yesterday, May 6, 2021, I was a resident of Blue Mountain Beach, Florida, along the very popular 30A.
I was yearning desperately to GET OUT of Florida. I was unhappy and I missed home. My father was down the road with friends in Fort Walton Beach. I called him and begged him to rent a car and not ride back to Tennessee with his friends so he could take some of my stuff back to Memphis. Thankfully, he obliged, after much complicated effort.
The following day, I went 20 miles down the road to Destin for my annual vacation. A week later, I returned to my two jobs, and worked tediously until the first week of June, when I changed my residency to Tennessee.
The first morning I was back in Memphis, I woke up around 6:30am, and felt panicked. The beach I had had in my backyard was now almost 500 miles away. What had I done? What did I leave? I immediately regretted my decision.
Over the next decade, I would go on to still visit the area on my birthday until 2014, continued to vacation in Destin every May, relocated to Franklin, TN, at the end of 2014- and every year, I wanted to return to the sunshine state. Literally. Every. Single. Year.
Last night, I returned to my favorite restaurant in Grayton Beach, just 2 miles from where I lived 10 years ago. I hit up my old beach to see the sunset before dinner. My friend Janet snapped a random photo of me at 7:15pm- a photo of me looking genuinely happy to be back in my element.
Something told me, when I stepped onto that crowded Blue Mountain Beach last night, to look at my Facebook memories from 2011. Sure enough, on the same day, at the exact same time, I was on the very same beach- only it was a nearly empty beach, unlike the incredibly crowded beach in 2021, taking photos. The photo from 2011 was a selfie on my dad and me at 7:15pm.
Ironically, a year ago yesterday, was the huge wildfire in South Walton County, that burned several homes, and blocked off 98 and 30A, causing me to have to take the long way back to our condo, after leaving Borago.
In weird ways, I seem to do the same things on the same days, different years. But it amuses me that a decade ago, I had a burning desire to leave, and this year, I have a burning desire to return.
I always knew in my heart that when I left that first time, that I would absolutely still move back. I just wanted to write off that particular move to the beach in 2011 as a loss, and move on. My work life was hell, I had the neighbors from hell, and it just made me miserable. I worked all the time and couldn’t rest once home due to my neighbors, who both ended up being evicted. On the positive side, I banked as a beach bartender.
In hindsight, I should’ve stuck it out. Had I pursued real estate here instead of Tennessee, I could possibly be further along in my career, and working in the place I truly love. But I didn’t take that path. God led me back to my home state. And I trust that God will take me where I am supposed to be next, unless, of course, I am already there.
Now that I go back and kinda read this at 12:26am, I feel like it’s just a mess of words that don’t mean anything to anyone. But I am deep in my feelings knowing that I literally did the exact same thing I did ten years ago, at the exact same place, at the exact same minute. Ten years ago, I never imagined my life ten years later, knocking on 40’s door, desperately yearning to get back to the place that stole my heart decades ago. Ten years ago, I was a lonely girl who was overworked, missed her family, hadn’t made a lot of friends, who took beach walks alone before and after work every day. I was a girl who chased a several year dream to live at the beach and caught it, and at the time, it felt like that dream blew up in my face. And as bad of a time as I seemed to be having back then, I still cherish every memory I had- because those may be the only memories I will have as a Florida resident. And maybe they’re not. Time will tell. But at least I get to be a Florida “resident” one month a year. If that’s all I ever have for the rest of my life, I’ll still be happy, because I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
And sometimes, that’s a tough pill to swallow.