Thursday, March 13, 2003

M. O. U. S. Eeee.

I get nostalgic every time I travel to Florida. I find that there's a certain smell, of rain, and heat, and tropical flowers, that I can detect the moment that I walk out of the airport, that just takes me back to my childhood, and early adulthood. I've made the annual trip to Florida just about every year that I can remember (a few years were missed while at sea). As a kid, we'd pile in the car to visit the grandparents. Most of those trips were made sans Dad, during our summer vacations when he was out at sea. I'd have a box full of library books (the checkout limit was 10, and I'd max that out every time), Barbies, and coloring books with new crayons (to melt as we drove through Florida in the summer). This was back in the day before we wore seatbelts, and my sister and made wonderful nests in the back of the station wagon. This was one trip where it was more fun to sit in the back and play and read and spread out. We'd alternate front and back every time. We'd usually go someplace educational (Savanah, Charleston, St. Augustine) along the way, or visit Disney World on the way home. We had our favorite restaurants, and had must-do activities (look for turtle nests, or go snorkeleing). I think I gained 5 pounds every time that I visited Florida. This was fine when I grew a few inches every summer; less fun when I stopped growing taller at age 12.

My second set of Florida memories are from when I was in the Navy. I lived in Orlando for 6 months while in Nuclear Power School. I had already been on my first ship, was a qualified Surface Warfare Office, and was a salty LTJG (every day and in every way becoming a better and better Lieutenant Junior Grade...) I'd heard that power school was a nightmare of studying and stress, but after 18 months at sea, it was a blast. I made some great friends, two of which are my housemates today. I was also lucky to be in Florida during the winter, when the weather is fantastic: sunny and 75 just about every day. This is when I really started running regularly, and completed my first half marathon.

It all came back to me as I drove that rental car up I-95 along the Florida coast on Sunday. Memory is a funny thing.


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