I’ve been in Jacksonville for a week now, with a couple days left before I have to get on the big silver bird and fly back to the desert.
My only plan for this retreat was that I would spend the first few days with my friend Hillary (her birthday last week was the primary catalyst for the trip) and the rest of my time with family — my brother, his wife, their kids, a.ka. my Very Adorable Niece and Nephew, and my parents, visiting from Virginia. More tenuous plans included at least one trip to the beach; not letting my running fall completely by the wayside (a little bit of wayside is fine); and sneaking in some Olympics viewing.
Life without every minute planned is wonderful. Sleeping in? Perfectly okay. Staying up past midnight, then setting my alarm for 6 am to watch the women’s Olympic marathon, then immediately afterward heading out for a run in the rain? Also perfectly okay. Settling into a slow, easy pace for the rest of the day as the sunshine and humidity upshift into high gear? The best.
Ah, the humidity. Jacksonville is blessed by water everywhere. There’s the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway, and countless little creeks, canals, and neighborhood lakes. It has rained every day of my visit. I LOVE IT.
Side note: Thank you, eVOLV Fitness of New Mexico, for the hot yoga classes that primed my sweat glands in the week before this trip. Seriously. Thank you.
Back to the lack-of-plan thing. See, that’s the beauty of vacation: the meandering has seeped right on over into my writing. Anyway, the casual pace has let me a) better enjoy the company of people who I haven’t seen in way too long, and b) take time to reminisce a bit about the 3-years-and-change I spent living here. Three years, two apartments, five marathons, lots of friends, lots of memories.
I moved to Jacksonville four months after graduating from college. It’s where I had my first “grown-up” job and made “grown-up” friends — friends who knew how to have fun but also dispensed advice, wisdom and the occasional “What the hell were you thinking?” Hey, I was 23!
Hillary and I ask each other, “Have we really known each other almost nine years already?” I look at my niece and ask myself, “Is she really getting ready for first grade already?”
I dunk myself in the Atlantic in my sports bra and running shorts after a long, sticky beach run. I drive along a residential street under oaks draped with Spanish moss. My fabulous friend Bobbi and I sit and chat late into the night while soaking our feet in her backyard hot tub. I laugh with my family at my toddler nephew when he pauses mid-playtime to check out women’s beach volleyball players on TV. My niece and I take turns hurdling down a poolside water slide after analyzing the outfits of rhythmic gymnastics competitors. I remember what it’s like to turn on the air-conditioning just to drive across a parking lot. I think rain-spattered thoughts of life on the coast.
Reality will set in on Sunday when I go back to New Mexico, but for now, I’m soaking up this vacation life every way I can.