I Heart My Hometown
Discouragement can come easy. Deep dark, the deep dark, the voices and regrets. The breaking of hearts like pigeon wings. The deaths and the walking dead. All of it can come. All of it comes. All of it can stay and take up residence. But anyone who lives in my hometown is surrounded by unspeakable beauty on all sides--oceans and bays and ancient streets, oak trees hanging with Spanish moss, Magnolias blossoming, waves rolling at the oceans two, and welcoming arms if you can find them. This is the beauty that surrounded me as a child, and six years ago, I returned. I don't know how long I'll be here. But I know that this place--with its deep love for me--saved my life, wrapped me in its sea-salted breeze, and brought me back to a mind of fearlessness and love and abandon I haven't felt since I was 10 years old and afraid of nothing, and dinner was always at 6 o'clock, when the street lamps came on, and my brothers and friends and I ran home to glowing lamplight and parents setting the table. At our house the jazz played, and the laughter always rolled over the conversation. And many days, in summer, toward the time of the setting sun, my friends and I walked the bayfront, hung on the slanted Coquina leading straight to the bay, and watched the water and the tide and the tiny waves, and we could be silent there, contented, knowing each other the way only 10-year-old best friends can, the strangest, easiest, unspoken intimacy that comes from a smaller ego, fewer fears, hope stretched before us like the horizon we could see when we looked to the west. I've never tired of that water, that scent of salt, the glowing lights. Every time I glance down from the bridge or the bay front walk, I always stop, in awe and silence and just a quiet, quiet love, so familiar and ingrained I hardly even notice anything but the words repeating in my head. Beautiful. Beautiful. I am so lucky. So lucky.