Stateside Visits

Ahhh, home sweet home! I am happily back on the island after being away much too long. Although I was keeping up with this blog from afar, I’ve actually been traveling through Florida the last couple of weeks. You might think I’d enjoy a return to “civilization,” with its restaurants and salons and Target stores. But, really, it’s always just so darn HECTIC! I love, love, love the chance to spend time with family and friends. And I do take the opportunity to stock up on things I can’t get on the island. But, oh, the traffic, and the running around, and I just miss home. (Plus, I gained three pounds!) Of course, keeping it all in perspective, it is still definitely part of my Better Life!

I initially flew back to Florida to spend time with northern friends who were vacationing in Key West, but I had to make a pit stop first. As you may recall, Angel’s mysterious foot malady necessitated a veterinarian consult.So, arriving mid-day to South Florida, Angel and I spent the first afternoon at the vet. Speculating that she was bitten by some island insect or critter, the vet gave her some anti-inflammatory and anti-itch stuff. More significantly, since she had ripped off the vet’s fancy foot bandage within minutes of reaching my mother’s house, we quickly outfitted her with a cone to keep her from licking or biting her paw. She milked the pathetic look on her face, but, by the following week, her foot was better, so it all paid off.

After squeezing in a few hours at my dad’s house nearby with some long-time family friends who were visiting (hello, guys!), I ditched Angel at my mom’s and headed for Key West early the next morning. The road trip takes several hours, but it is a beautiful drive on an overseas highway, if you’ve never done it.

The next few days were a delightful time, catching up with dear friends and their little boy.

Brian and I have been good friends since we started law school together almost 18 years ago!

Brian’s lovely wife, Lisa, became one of my closest girlfriends over years of dinners, guitar lessons and “Craft Club!”

Brian, Lisa and the ever-charming, precocious and delightful Evan. (Hi, Evan!)

My friends had rented a cute little Key West cottage with a heated pool, so – despite it being winter – even I joined them for swims. We strolled Duvall Street, had a dolphin adventure at the Dolphin Research Centre in nearby Marathon, and otherwise kicked around together and enjoyed catching up on our respective lives.

Mallory Square sunset

On my last evening with them, as we joined the throngs of people in Mallory Square for the famous Key West sunset, I tried REALLY hard to appreciate it and not compare it to the amazing sunsets that spoil me most nights at home.

Enjoying my cherished friends, regardless of the sunset.

Towards the end of the week, I headed back to my family in South Florida, staying either at my mom’s or my dad’s, who thankfully live just 15 minutes apart. In between errands, I enjoyed meeting up with former co-workers (Grace, send me our picture!). I also relished catching up with my dear friend Jillian.

With Jillian at First Watch restaurant

Jillian and I first bonded while studying for the Florida Bar together 14 years ago! On my visits to Florida – which Jillian agrees are far more frequent now that I live in another country!! – we usually get together for a lunchtime gabfest. We’ve taken to meeting at First Watch, a restaurant that I have loved since I waitressed there (in another city) during my high school and college years. (Shout out to Kris and Vito!) My odd habit of putting ranch dressing on scrambled eggs stems from some of their creative menu items.

Meanwhile, a family member of dear island friends passed away in North Florida. Rather than fly home and then right back to Florida (with the expense that goes with that), I decided to just stay in Florida until time for the services. So, I drove a little north and enjoyed spending the weekend with my beloved brother.

My brother, the grill master.

I spent a few days doing the ever-present “island errands:” golf cart parts, West Marine, Home Depot, IKEA, bank runs, various meetings, get taxes in the mail, pedicure, etc.

Then, my beau flew in to join me, and we drove several hours north to see our good friends in their difficult time and attend the lovely memorial service. He returned to the island on Sunday, but I couldn’t go yet. “Island errands” always include a last-minute grocery run and a vet visit within 48 hours of departure to complete the required Bahamian paperwork. So, I had to wait until the vet opened on Monday, then also went to the grocery store, made another Home Depot run, changed the oil in my ancient run-around-Florida car, did laundry and packed up to return.

In the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, I loaded up the many bags of groceries, repair parts, toilet bowl brushes and other miscellany, clothes and one excited dog, and headed to the private hangar at a nearby airport for a shared charter service to fly me home to the island. With Angel on my lap in her carrier bag, I sank into one of nine small passenger seats on a 7:00 a.m. flight back home.

Phew! I remember when going to see my family in Florida meant ditching the cold north and spending leisurely days of sleeping in, reading, dozing in the sun, lounging around with family and occasionally exerting enough effort to take a shower and meet a friend for lunch. Now, my visits are extremely hectic, and I drive back and forth with a kajillion island errands. (By the way, I’ve decided that “kajillion” really is, or should be, a word.)

But, lest you think I’m complaining, this is all just to paint the picture for you of how different things feel to me these days.On a daily basis, I am Choosing The Better Life for myself. While stuck in Florida traffic, I’m reminded of the daily commuter traffic in icy conditions that I no longer have to endure and am thankful that the current traffic is a temporary condition for me. Running around to West Marine or Home Depot, I focus on how lucky I am to be buying fishing lures for the next fun boat excursion or planning a bathroom remodel in an oceanfront home. Driving several hours to see friends turns into a time to simply breathe, sing along to music, and think how much I value my friendships and the dear friends who live far away or who are having a difficult time.

My Better Life is not just because I moved to live on an island (although, of course, that’s pretty darn fabulous). Rather, it is a state of mind, an appreciation for the small, simple things in life and trying to keep things in perspective. For me, that approach started before I ever moved, and, I believe, is what helped lead me to making the bigger decisions that have brought so much joy to my life. Given that, you can Choose The Better Life for yourself, too, no matter where you live! Welcome home.

4 Responses to Stateside Visits

  • Anonymous says:

    Great report… and reminder that the choice of "a better life" is available to us all, anywhere, and any time!

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment! I hope you are enjoying your Better Life, too!

  • Lisa says:

    The charter flights sounds like an awesome way to go with a pet. I wish I could do that flying to Europe….lol I so understand the errands to get all the things you can't get on island, I did that when I lived on Guam.

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks, Lisa. Thankfully, Angel is small enough that she can travel in her carrier with me on commercial flights, too. I would have a hard time putting her down in cargo if she was bigger!

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