Wednesday, October 3, 2012

And What is Lost Can Never Be Found

Longing for Florida favorites -- the beach, old friends, Tampa Theatre, my mom, Dunedin Brewery -- I left early in the morning (so early, in fact, that I forgot the entire camera bag, stock full of technological wonders!) on the eleventh of September. First destination: Gainesville. With my best friend, K., heading to Rome the following Saturday, I had limited time with her, so I spent time enjoying her teaching (while I also pilfered through her desk -- something you are never allowed to do as a student, but because she's my BFF I had free reign!). We later shared a Publix sub, tangelos, and Raisinets over the shortest lunch ever, and then I departed for Tampa.

A collection of friends were to meet at Fly Bar in downtown Tampa before a planned trip to the theatre. They came, we ate, we laughed -- it was such an enjoyable, light-hearted, and fun time. So fun, in fact, that we decided to skip the theatre, and instead stop by The Hub, and then later walk about UT's campus (M. and I feeling great bouts of nostalgia the entire time). The entire day was truly lovely -- from starting in my best friend's classroom, to ending in my other best friend's guest room -- and a perfect beginning to this short vacation.

The next morning, A. and I made our way south to Pass-A-Grille Beach in St. Petersburg. A. made reservations at the cutest little inn on the beach, and before the afternoon really started, we were on the beach, telling stories, sipping drinks, and playing in the clear, gorgeous water. We spent two full days in this beautiful place -- each day rotating between the sun and water (enjoying the rain showers, too), and each night washing the sand off our bodies to make our way to a waterside restaurant.(We tried conch fritters for the first time! A+!) Pass-A-Grille is quiet and peaceful. I like it here. (:

On Friday morning, A. and I headed back home and I met my mom for a mother-daughter day. We had lunch at Panera, and then headed to her favorite place for pedicures. With freshly painted toes, we then did something sort of unexpected. Apparently my mom and her childhood best friend sometimes spend their days together hanging out at the "Kitty Kabana," the local pet shelter for cats. My mom has termed this place the "Cat House" and was very excited for me to meet Chubby Hugs - a 25lb cat that literally gives you hugs. All these animals were so sweet and it actually was fun spending time there loving on them. Later that day, we headed back home to have dinner cooked by my mom's boyfriend, D. Yummy stir fry! My brother and his girlfriend hung out with us, too, and after stuffing my face with chocolate covered mint Oreos, I succumbed to the best night's rest on the most comfortable air mattress.

Saturday morning, after fresh NY-style Bagels, I left my family and headed toward the Orlando area to meet up with my close friend, S. We first ate at Ethos, a vegan restaurant. Afterward, we went to Enzian Theater, an independent theatre where you can order food and drinks while watching your independent film! S.'s beau, B. met us there before The Queen of Versailles started, so we grabbed a drink and got cozy. After the movie, there was some shoe shopping, and then we headed back to S.'s house for quality time (J. met us there, too!).

What I realized most about this trip is the lack of hugs in my life on a daily basis. Every person I met -- albeit, it may have been a while since our last visit -- greeted me with a comforting squeeze. In non-vacation life, this usually occurs only with my husband -- and those his hugs are great, it was wonderful getting multiple hugs like this each day. Anybody want to hug me more?

Oh yeah, this sunrise was pretty sweet on my drive back to South Carolina. (:

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