It was days after I finished my last class. I had just graduated from Northern Arizona University in the beautiful mountains of Flagstaff. I had survived snowstorms, fires, even droughts living amongst some of the most majestic scenery in the state. I had officially finished my degree. My red Chevy S-10 was packed to the brim, books, night stands, clothes, a CD player, and picture frames covered every inch of the flat bed. Not much to talk about, but my entire life was in the back of that truck. No bed, no sheets, no TV, no furniture to sit on, but I didn’t care I was going on an adventure and my mom was along for the first leg of this amazing journey.
“Are you sure you’re ready to go? Are you sure you have everything?” Mom said with concern in her voice. Of her six kids, I was the first, but not last, to venture far from home.
My mom was anxious about our 3,500 mile voyage across this spectacular country. She was also worried about leaving her oldest daughter in a city she didn’t know with no friends and no family. But at the same time, she was excited for the adventure her daughter would soon be having!
“I’m ready mom. Isn’t it pretty pathetic that my whole life fits in the back of this truck? Oh well. This is the adventure of a lifetime!”
The Arizona desert was a spectacular display of colors. Oranges played off the Saguaro cacti making their blossoms turn from their natural white into a royal apricot. The blue sky overhead still held the moon in off to the west and the beginnings of the sun to the east. The way we were headed. East.
The east coast held my first job. My first time of being an adult. My first opportunity to use the skills I had cultivated while in college. The first time I would truly be an ADULT! I was stoked. I didn’t care who I was leaving behind. I didn’t care that I had no apartment, no friends, no family, nothing to cleave to in Florida. I didn’t care that I had no furniture to sit on, no bed to sleep in, no place to call my own. This was the beginning of the rest of my life.
As we navigated across the country on I-10, the scenery changed. The desert of Arizona turned into the windy New Mexico countryside. New Mexico changed into the wide expanses of Texas. Texas with its rolling hills and wide open green fields, turned into Louisiana. Each and every bridge brought thrill and excitement. Louisiana turned into Mississippi, then Alabama, and finally Florida. I was home. I was to the place I would call home for the next 2 years. I was in the place where I would go on a date that would forever change my life.
I secured an apartment, a bed, a TV, and some food, all before my mom got on an airplane to head back to Arizona. When we arrived in Florida, she could see why I fell in love with the place.
“This beach is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” my mom exclaimed as she strolled down Jax Beach in the middle of October. “I can’t believe how nice the water feels.”
I had to snap a picture to remember the waves as they washed up on her feet and the sun set off over her shoulder.
“I know, and I get to live here,” was my reply. I was over the moon to live in such a tropical paradise.
The palm trees lined the streets, the beach went on farther than the eye could imagine, and the amount of green was astounding. People actually had front yards, not the front yards of the Phoenix area where rocks replaced grass and instead of tall shade trees you saw hedges and cacti. It was easy to fall in love with Florida.
I not only fell in love with the state, but with the greatest man I have ever known.
Coming up, the love story of my life…