We’re at the beach. Vilano Beach in North Florida – on the Atlantic, near where I was born and raised. Before I met my wife, who is from NJ, she’d only been to Florida once on a college road trip. But after the Blizzard of 96 when we received 3′ of snow in 24 hours in North Jersey, I told her that I had to leave. I was done with winter. So we migrated from the Garden State to the Sunshine State where we got married, I finished college and we got our first dog together. In January 2000, we moved to Charlotte where our life together has taken root – and flourished. We purchased our first house together in Charlotte, both our daughters are native Charlotteans and we have an amazing network of friends who are as loyal as any family.
But there’s something about Florida that resonates with my wife as much as it ever did with me. That’s why we keep coming back to this stretch of earth with the moss-draped oaks, massive dunes and beaches teeming with sea life. Back to the Castillo de San Marcos that fascinates my children every bit as much as it did me as a boy. Back to the tacky little shops in old St. Augustine that we spend too many afternoons meandering through.
On the drive down this year, I shared a car with Agatha Rose, our oldest (8). She told me that she’d rather come to this beach more than anything in the world. “Even more than Disney World. Even New York.” Granted, she’s never been to New York, but we’re planning that trip soon. That is, if we can pull ourselves away from this little beach.