Hey lovebugs! I’m in Ft Myers, FL on business this week and loving every minute! You know it’s winter when you’re glad to leave San Diego for “warmer” weather, haha.
I love the office that I’m working with, they are stressed to the max but extremely sweet and affable. We made good progress today and I think tomorrow we’ll do even better. I plan to surprise them all with green smoothies in the morning! I had one today and it kept me going for hours. I found a cute cafe that has smoothies, delicious herbal tea, and some fancy oatmeal to go.
I’ve never been to Florida before, which is crazy given that I grew up in New Hampshire and it’s the go-to destination for New Englanders. I have to say that it might just be this particular area, but I’m smitten! Ever since I peeked out the window of the airplane as we were approaching the landing and saw all the strips of land covered in trees and surrounded by water, I was taken. It’s strange that this place reminds me so much of home (New Hampshire home) and yet is at the same time completely foreign and new to me.
After grabbing my rental car and driving towards the hotel I turned down a street, aptly named Treeline Avenue, and was blown away by the neat row of trees stretching down for what seemed like forever. Every six trees or so, the trees would change to a different variety. I can’t believe how many types of trees they have here…and if you think I’m being silly, remember that I grew up in tree-licious New England but have been living in desert-y San Diego for several years now – I’m tree-starved!
The office let me go much earlier than expected today, so I took the opportunity to head over to Sanibel Island, where I was told there was an amazing vegan cafe. I was not mislead:
The Sanibel Sprout is an all-vegan, all-organic, all-gluten-free cafe on Sanibel Island. It’s adorable, with beautiful chalkboards to announce the menu, pretty table settings inside and out, and a big beautiful window with a bar stools to perch at and watch the world go by.
The place is owned by Nikki Rood, who is the chef, and her mother, whose name I did not catch, much to my chagrin. They get their food from the Sanibel/Captiva coop, which they also run. And you can tell. The food is so fresh, delicious, full of life and love.
I had a nice long talk with Caroline, one of the staff members there. We talked about how joyful veganism is, and how amazing to eat real food. I said I was seriously considering moving to Sanibel so I could eat there every day, and she was like, “Yeah girl, island life is IT!”
I left with a ton of food – I made sure to stock up for the next couple days since I won’t likely be able to get back to Sanibel before I leave and I wanted to keep eating clean while I’m here. I felt that wonderful light satiation that comes from good food, made and eaten with love.
I was so happy being out on my island adventure that I decided to pull into a quirky antique shop, the Islander Trading Post, I had seen on the ride in. My heart dropped as I noticed the manager outside taking down the his sign but he graciously invited me in when I told him I was here visiting on business.
The manager introduced himself as Billy and told me that everything in the store was from one collector, the owner. He said they have over a million items, which may sound preposterous but in looking around I didn’t doubt him.
Billy was gracious about me being there, told me to take my time. He told me everything in the shop was from one collector, which is mind-boggling, and he said the guy keeps buying more stuff!
I found some amazing signs in the back. If I weren’t trying so hard to get my finances under control, several of them would’ve come home with me, this one in particular:
I found a really cool, cast iron bottle opener in the shape of a mermaid. It’s heavy as hell and a perfect reminder of my trip. Billy gave me his card and told me to come back anytime. I thanked him sincerely for welcoming me in with his hospitable islander attitude and he brushed it off as no big deal. For a former New Yorker, he seemed right at home in this peaceable quaint place.
Before I pulled out of the parking lot, I stopped to take a photo of this tree. It was gray in real life, beautiful and haunting. I was so happy to see I caught the edge of the “antique” sign in the photo, the sign that caught my attention in the first place and brought me into this wonderful store:
Ever since I found out about this last minute trip, I have felt what I can only describe as calm excitement. I am sorely under-trained to be here by myself and yet I experienced no anxiety or dread as I would have in the past, only a certainty that this would be an important moment in my life. Since I watched Florida take it’s unique shape beneath me on the plane, I felt that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be in this moment.
I am so grateful. I am grateful to my boss in too many ways to list here (for picking me, for trusting me, for supporting me…), I am grateful to my company for funding the trip, I am even grateful to myself for working so hard to get here, which still makes me feel weird to say but it’s true. I wouldn’t say I was ever someone who was ungrateful, but lately I’ve been filled with so much gratitude to everything in my life that I feel like a different person. I never thought I would be able to look back on my life without regret but, lately, I’ve been doing just that. I can see the pains and mistakes of the past and observe them without feeling the burden of them anymore. I no longer have shame about where I am, or dread that I might not get to where I’m “supposed” to be. Right now, I’m supposed to be in Florida and I am!
Everything about this day was perfect and I was able to appreciate it in the moment. I can do that now, be in the moment, without being drowned by anxiety for the future or angst of the past. I can trust myself to do well, I no longer need to pre-worry every possible contingency to death. I can be in an antique store, feeling the weight of a cast iron bottle opener in my hand and the wholesome meal in my belly, and not be anywhere else.
I drove home, blasting cherished music from a painstakingly crafted Spotify playlist, reveling in the sheer novelty of driving, every merge and lane change a little thrill.* I felt so fucking alive, so happy, so perfectly right there with myself. It’s a night I’ll never forget.
*I don’t currently own a car, so driving is exciting for me :)