Today marks exactly one year since I first pulled up the moving truck to our house here In Sarasota, FL. Frankly, it feels like it was about three weeks ago rather than a year but that’s a whole other story. As I really do look back on this last year there really is only one conclusion I can come to…
We’ve finally found home.
First, and probably most importantly, we’ve finally found the walking neighborhood we’ve been looking for since we first moved in together over 11 years ago. In Gulf Gate, our new neighborhood in Sarasota, we can walk to everything from the grocery store to the library and from restaurants and bars to church and shopping. It’s been incredible. For the most part we don’t need to drive much at all and have actually reduced our driving to the point that we’ll be going to one car when the lease on our Nissan Leaf is up in September. That never would’ve happened in Carbondale or Austin or even Hawaii where to do pretty much anything (except the bars in Carbondale) we had to drive to it.
Second is of course the water and the weather. We weren’t willing to go somewhere colder than Austin in the winter (although it is much more pleasant during the summer around here thanks to the cooler temps by the water). Add to this world-class beaches in walking/biking distance and all the activities they bring and we couldn’t be happier about the places we can spend our days.
Of course then there is the quality of the neighborhood and the stuff in it too. People here are awesome. In Austin neighbors would call the cops on you at the slightly perceived offense and after three years there I could tell you the name of exactly one neighbor in our whole neighborhood. Here we probably know more than half our block and walks with the dogs are only slowed by friendly people stopping to say “hi.” It really is pretty awesome. Then there’s the places we can walk to where I think we’re on a first name basis with most of the shop owners. Heck, we’ve even found a home in the Catholic church across the street which has been a welcome relief from past attempts at finding a church in the places we’ve lived.
When we bought this house sight-unseen I have to admit I was pretty nervous about it. Would we like the neighborhood? Would the neighborhood like us? The list went on but nearly all those fears were completely unfounded and for the first time in over a decade at the end of our first year we aren’t daydreaming about moving somewhere else.
Of course not all of it has been totally perfect and I would be lying if I said there weren’t side effects of our new home. For example, with so many good bars nearby my drinking had gone up quite a bit last year (something I’m working hard on controlling this year). Plus there is all the friends we miss from Carbondale, Austin and the other places we’ve lived. Thankfully between my job and the internet in general I still get to keep in touch with many but it isn’t the same as just showing up somewhere to hang out some of those awesome folks.
It’s also a bit weird being some of the youngest folks around too. We’re in our late 30s and we’re young enough to be the kids of most of the people around here (last I checked the median age in Sarasota is 51). Frankly that isn’t all a bad thing but it is a bit different than the super young college towns we’ve gotten used to.
In the end though, the side effects are more than manageable, something that couldn’t be said about the last few places we’ve lived, and for the first time in my adult life I can truly say that we’ve finally found “home.”