I visited my old stomping grounds in Jacksonville, FL last weekend. Aside from Ohio, Jacksonville is the place that I lived the longest (7 years). I hadn’t been to Jacksonville in two years, and I experienced a number of rather interesting emotions that started on the drive up.
First I experienced a strong sense of nostalgia as I drove under the sign on I-10 that announces upcoming Jacksonville. I was flooded with images of the good times I had with friends and my now ex- husband: outings at the beach, hanging out with friends, earning my Bachelor’s degree, and then my Master’s degree. I also got hit with images of the bad times: the worse parts of my marriage, the divorce and everything that went with that. Seven years of emotion hit me in the face after seeing one, big, green sign.
During the remainder of the trip I felt a lot of gratitude. I’m so grateful for all of the friends I made when I lived in Jacksonville. I don’t see them often enough, but I’m glad that we are able to pick right up where we left off whenever we do see each other. I’m also grateful for my collegiate experience at the University of North Florida. I am very proud to call UNF my alma mater, and it is great to see the Biology Department flourishing.
On this trip I also recognized some of the feelings I have when I travel to a new place. There was anticipation about returning to this city I hadn’t seen in 2 years. I also wanted to take in every detail to see if Jacksonville matched my memory. (Mostly the same, but there were small changes…)
And right now now I’m watching Pleasantville. It seems an interesting coincidence that I chose that movie to watch, because I feel like it reflects some of the lessons from my recent trip. The trip and the movie are my reminders that we should try to appreciate and be present in each moment of this life. They remind me that the little things in life are the only important things.
And perhaps most importantly, they remind me that a little gratitude goes a long way. I keep slipping into slumps regarding my dating life, and it’s always gratitude that pulls me out of these slumps.
I have so much to be grateful for that it’s a little embarrassing that this is such a challenge for me. But I also know that it’s Ok, and tomorrow I’ll remember my blessings more often than I have before.