Here we are.
In 24 hours, I will have completed my final moments on air at WTSP and will be embarking on my final New Year’s Eve in Tampa Bay. Perhaps it’s the rain…the lack of sleep…some pull of the moon even…but this otherwise stalwart pragmatist is driven to nostalgia. It’s an uncomfortable place – but so goes the theme of 2014. Stand outside your comfort zone long enough, and the disconcerting cold pricklies on your skin begin to turn to enthusiastic warm fizzies. Funny how similar they feel.
It’s cold where we are going. So I’m told over and over and over daily by my colleagues and friends. Mind you – we are all Floridian – almost all of us transplants, but we all came here for one reason or another. Those reasons range from new starts to jumpstarts, but we all have one thing in common: the sun. We crave its warmth, and here in Florida, we can get it in abundance. We live in vacation-land. We are the reprieve for those poor, chilled folks who travel here from where I am going. So I’m told.
But, something changed in 2014. Up until this year, the Bay was my baby. My husband is the lifer, but I somehow felt that I was cosmically a part of the tapestry woven by the immigrants who largely built the collection of cities I have come to love. They travelled from places afar, and I just came from Texas, but those bridges are every bit as much mine as anyone’s – at least, I have always felt that way. But, on March 6th, 2014, I somehow stopped needing the sun, the sand, the sidewalks of the Burg. As I stand beside the seawall across from Straub Park now, my gaze is not on the boats in the marina, but on my son’s smile. With him and his father now completing my team, I am free. My sun goes with me to the great white north where there are bears, moose, cheese and beer in excess. (Maybe not moose. I kind of hope so, though.)
This is not to say that there is not still a golden place in my heart where the Burg abides. I hold high the rooftop at The Birchwood, the brick courtyard of Cantina, the flamingo pink façade of the Don Cesar, the sunset deck at Caddy’s. But, the truth is, my priceless collection of friends and “extended family” compiled here is worth infinitely more than any of those sun-kissed locales. Because I was here, I have the love of my life in Oshkosh overalls. I have my incredibly talented and usually congenial husband. I have a god-daughter who is smarter than all of us and will probably be president or the next Tina Fey one day. Her mother may as well be my sister – people already believe her to be. I have a spirit guide with a pixie haircut and a heart of gold whose progeny is Beyonce reincarnate. I even have my very own version of Julia Louis-Dreyfuss who took her game westward a year ago. God, has it been a year? But because she went, I know that my leaving is not equal to letting go. The ties that bind us all are made of sturdy stuff, and neither the salt on the roads in snowy Wisconsin nor the salt in the air on St. Pete Beach can corrode our connections.
As for my cohorts at WTSP – my kindreds - the misguided folks who chose a similar path to mine – this is a transient business. We are all rather used to goodbyes, aren’t we? But we do get our share of “hellos” in the process. Those make the “miss you” moments more bearable. To all of you, I simply say this: who would know better than us how very small the world is? We are the ones who make it so. Given that, I expect to be informed of all of your comings and goings – from job changes to new additions (wink, wink). I’m-a-be watching!
So, while where I’m going might be cold, I won’t be. I pocketed plenty of Florida sunshine by way of each and every one of you – enough for the Sinn clan to stay toasty for many winters to come. I also got a heated mattress pad for Christmas.
Be well. Be kind. Be warm. Don’t be strangers. C’est la vie, et la vie est bonne!