A few weeks ago, my husband and I impulsively bought plane tickets back home for the 4th of July week/weekend. We haven’t been home since Christmas and are desperately missing Ocean City. My husband grew up there, while I saw it solely as a vacation spot in the summertime. When I first met Sean, I was still in nursing school in Jersey and would drive down to OC almost every weekend to see him. For a whole year, I spent 50% of my time in this summer town and unbeknown to me, I would eventually fall in love with this place. The place that everyone claimed to be a ghost town in the off-season, or a place where you couldn’t even go out to eat because the majority of places were closed from October to April. But I started to see it as a quaint little sanctuary, and a place where I learned what true love really was. Sean probably had a lot to do with my newly developed love for this town, but that’s not the point (hehe).
After I finished nursing school, I applied for a job at the local hospital near Ocean City and accepted a position in the late summer. Naturally, Sean BEGGED me to move in with him (sigh, there I go exaggerating again) and I did. I spent that fall and winter learning about all these amazing local’s spots I never knew existed…what an incredible town! I found this perfect little yoga studio in the heart of Berlin, where my friend and I would be zen together and then go grab some organic tea and scones at the local coffee shop. I remember one day after yoga drinking tea and watching the snow fall gently. It was so beautiful and perfect…it was the first time in a long time that I actually felt content being by myself in public. I remember how the shop smelled, the music that was playing, how my tea and blueberry scone tasted, and the fuzzy feeling I got from watching those big, fluffy flakes fall from the sky. It was pure bliss.
January and February rolled around and it was brutally cold. I’m talking -9-20 degrees at the highest, and it was awful. Our emergency heat was on for two weeks straight and our house never got any warmer than 58 degrees. We were absolutely miserable.
During this short period of time (clearly I have no patience), I starting reminiscing on what I wanted from life. I always love Florida and made a promise to myself that one day, I would move to Tampa. I fell in love with that city during high school and college and dedicated myself to living there. My parents had a condo in Punta Gorda, FL, so we flew into Tampa a lot. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a nurse practitioner and the University of Tampa had an amazing program.
In March that year, I applied for a position at Tampa General Hospital. I’d heard that it was super competitive to get a job there and you had to have at least a year’s experience, but I said screw it and applied anyway. Sure enough, 3 weeks later I received a phone call stating they were very interested in me and wanted to do a phone interview later that day.
I was absolutely overjoyed when I hung the phone up with my new nurse manager. I had been offered a job! Pure bliss again. I quickly called Sean and told him the news. He was so happy for me, but I could hear the underlying disappointment in his voice…he was about to be asked to pick up his entire life and move to a strange city with some girl he’s only known for a year and a half. How could I do this to him? Ocean City is the only place he’s ever known, his friends are here, why would he do this for some chick?
Flash forward to April when Sean and I jam-packed my car with everything we needed and drove to Tampa in the middle of the night. The cat was squished in the middle of all my crap in her little carrier…and I just want to point out that she didn’t make a peep the entire trip. Such a good little baby…
Oops, I forgot you were still here. Uh, don’t mind my crazy cat lady mentality…
Flash forward again to two years later, and now we’re married and living in Downtown Tampa. Sounds like a dream, right? Well it’s pretty awesome, but if I’m being honest here, there is simply no place like home. And yes, I now consider Ocean City to be my home because that place made me feel alive, safe, and at peace with myself. I know this seems strange, like why did you leave then, dummy? Here’s the answer: I wanted to keep the promise of moving to Tampa to myself. I wanted to prove to my dad that I can be and do whatever I set my mind to, and I wanted him to be proud of me. I’ve always acted out on what my heart wants. Sure, this makes me vulnerable, but I’d rather take the really bad times if it means I can experience some of the best times.
So here we are, sitting in the airport, waiting to fly back home to Ocean City. I’m excited, but mostly sad. It kills me every time we have to leave, even if it’s ungodly cold back home. I feel a certain way when I’m there that I really don’t feel anywhere else. But now that I’ve said it out loud, maybe it’s a good thing I don’t live there anymore. Maybe it’s good to keep your favorite place in the world as a place to visit when you need to be reminded of who you really are.
This is good. This is going to be a great trip. And I’m going to be reminded of where I’m from, who I am, and how I will continue to grow as a person.