Twelve years ago, shortly after G and I met, he flew us to Florida so I could meet his parents and sisters, who were all living there at the time.
We took time on that trip to Florida’s inland to drive out to the Gulf of Mexico and spend a few days at Anna Maria Island. It was my first time in Florida and seeing the Gulf of Mexico, and it was amazing.
I had been to Hawaii and California plenty of times before, but I had not been any where near Florida or to a place like Anna Maria Island. One of the things I loved about the Island is that it did not allow fast food restaurants, high-rise hotels, or enormous sprawling beachfront resorts.
I appreciated that the hotels on Anna Maria were old, rustic, and small. George and I stayed in an adorable yellow hotel right on the beach with a beachside café next door.
Our room had a romantic balcony that faced the seemingly unending expanse of the Gulf. And when the coastal weather took a turn one late afternoon, it was the first time I ever, literally, watched a storm roll in. Seriously. I watched those clouds and that rain and that lightning roll across the Gulf until it all landed on the beach right front of me.
Anyway, I enjoyed every moment of that trip. I also enjoyed every moment of the second trip we took to Anna Maria Island a little over a year later, right after we became engaged.
I remember well how awesome it felt to step off the plane and realize I was on the totally opposite end of the country. I was giddy with sunshine and freedom!
Then, of course, George and I got married, and that was the end of pretty much all freedom. We sold one fish biz, bought another, invested in new fisheries, bought and sold a house or two, adopted two dogs, gave birth to two and then three children…and we never made it back to Anna Maria.
Here I am, twelve years later, writing this blog post from the same yellow hotel we stayed in over a decade ago. Because we have three children, we secured a larger two bedroom unit that faces the pool rather than a quaint balcony room facing the Gulf, but everything else is exactly the same.
The hotel is still yellow, there is still a beach café next door, and the restaurant at the end of the pier where a man plays the piano and sings is still open, along with the homemade ice cream shop.
Not one thing has changed on this island in twelve years, and I love it!
Just as before, I’m on the other side of the country and I’m here with the same guy. I still feel giddy and I still feel free being in a place where absolutely not one person knows me and I don’t know any of them! It’s a surreal feeling.
I am so connected to my circles and my friends and my activities at home that it feels strange to not only be away, but to be this far away!
I love the sunshine and the heat. I love the midnight rain and lightning and thunder storms and the fact that I’m reading a wonderful book instead of watching TV or looking at my computer.
The hustle and stress of the forthcoming school year and fall commitments will commence the minute we get home from vacation, so I am really going to take these next few days slowly and with gratitude for what has been….and what is to come!