They say you can’t go home again, and they’re right. But, this past weekend I returned to Orlando for a few days and as much as it’s changed, it felt the same. It’s been months since I actually spent more than a few hours in town; I usually just pass through on my way to the airport. Hanging around for a few days allowed me to sink into the nostalgia and embrace all the feels that came with it…
I drove home Friday night to see Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness at House of Blues. I was jazzed about this show for so many reasons. First, I saw Something Corporate there when I was in high school and it was one of many memorable shows. I always stood on the stairs behind the sound booth (short person tactic: stairs!) when I went to see Dashboard, Hot Rod Circuit, Juliana Theory, and New Found Glory. Second, he covered Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate, and even rode a rubber ducki raft through the crowd. Andrew killed it, of course, but what was crazy was how HOB hasn’t changed one bit. It even smelled the same!
The next morning I went to my local Starbucks to study and as unromantic as that may seem, I have a long-standing history with my neighborhood store. It’s been remodeled since I was in high school, but I still remember meeting friends for frappucinos, going on a bad first date with a guy from my school, and even ending a serious relationship there. It was crazy busy, and after hanging around for a few hours, I didn’t see anyone I knew. This was a delight because Tallahassee is so small, it’s next to impossible not to run into someone you at least recognize.
circa 2001 | oh, swim team.
Later, I went to visit my high school friend and her family in their new home. It’s crazy to think she’s been all over the country and is back to where we all started. We always like to joke about how I ghosted most of senior year of high school, and as flaky as I was when we both went to FSU, I’ve always been grateful she was the driving force that kept our friendship in tact all these years. (She’s also one of three people that reads this blog. Hi, Leigh!)
After accompanying my sister to her work’s puppy adoption and walking away empty-handed, **miracles happen** I drove through the same old streets, passed my high school, which always looked and felt like a prison. They got a swimming pool, which I was immediately bitter about. When I was on the swim team, we had to go to a neighboring high school to use their pool.
I was hungry so I went to my old stomping grounds: Chik-Fil-A. My first job outside of babysitting was at Chik-Fil-A when I was 15. It absolutely molded me into the worker I am today. All of my friends worked there, and I even met my first boyfriend there too. All of us hung out before work, after work, sometimes laughed until we cried at work. We went to the water park and camping on the weekends, played tennis at night during the summer, and fell asleep at each others’ houses watching Super Troopers for the hundredth time. There are certain jobs you’ll have in life that leave a positive mark on you, and I’m so grateful that this was one of them. Uniform excluded.
I didn’t know it when it was happening, but that time in my life was so magical. Staying up way too late, meeting friends at Denny’s after work, reciting lines from Billy Madison, blasting Sugarcult with the windows down, all the inside jokes, falling in love for the first time… it was the best. I don’t like to live in the past, but I’m so grateful I can look back on this time in my life and feel really good about it. It was such a blip on the timeline of my life, but that’s what makes it worth cherishing.