Sarasota: Back Where I Started From…
Things are going better than I imagined. I am trying to keep my wits about me as this town is so seducing. Sarasota’s stark beauty, blue skies and mountainous cloud ranges are sneaky sirens calling me back. But this time, I know what lies beneath.
Blue skies can quickly turn purple and hurl lightening across a marginal sea, sending everyone into a frenzy gathering up chairs and their lives, to reach higher ground and a stronger economy. There is a great migration happening in this country, of which I am one.
Me, and birds are slowly returning. Birds, which once filled the shoreline in crazy abundance, are gone.
Pelicans – those low flying thugs, used to skim the water so near, I was forced to submerge my head under water in turf wars. Blue cranes, 5 feet tall, once littered the beaches. They brazenly stood by chairs of Amish fishermen waiting to swoop in and steal a fish right off their line! Thievery among animals is so endearing.
Pink Spoon bills, bald eagles and owls too, are still missing. Nor do I see dolphins or manatees regularly.
These waters have endured so much harm at human hands: The devastating BP Oil Spill and a phosphorus leak so catastrophic it killed mammals!
In a way, I feel the Gulf and I, are both trying to recover and wondering how much more we can survive.
The large sea turtles, who yearly come back to lay eggs, are still here. On morning beach walks there are new nests marked by four wooden posts bound in yellow tape. They look like little crime scenes! Aquarium rangers come nightly to find eggs and to protect nests. Bless them.
Due to the turtle migration, all lights must be out on the beach by 10 PM so hatchlings can follow the moon to the sea and not be misguided by streetlights.
So many nights we ran with buckets to capture scrawny-necked creatures and turned them around towards the sea - knowing most of them would be eaten before reaching deep waters.
Seems life is a chronic condition for every species.
Sarasota is a charming tourist town, which can have a dark underbelly. Inner peace can quickly turn to boredom and lethargy. Ambition melts away in the heat. The lack of work opportunities breeds beliefs in every internet conspiracy theory, pop-up meth labs, wacky spiritual practices and business scam which all come with a downline.
I am deeply concerned about how I will engage my business mind and earn here. But this dang sun is breaking me down —who can think straight in all this raw beauty!?
Then again, thinking logically didn’t prevent this mess! All I know is, my shoulders are falling away from my ears and my bones feel roasty warm.
My community here has been beyond loving and supportive. Joni, a real estate agent, has been using her MLS listing to see what’s available, booking showings and driving me around.
She is so excited I am moving back and wants me to be excited too. I am reeling with concerns about everything! Trying to stay present in conversation, while floating outside myself. I am in the cloud.
I’ve never really had to worry about money before, as I worked hard, invested early and I am a true Midwestern saver. Living with real constraints is a huge mind-bend and I buck against it at every turn. It also brings me tremendous worry and bitterness.
When I left here 11 years ago, I could have bought a house outright! But when the Florida housing crisis collapsed in tandem with the world economy, I was only 50 years of age and I needed to continue working.
Heartbroken to leave here, I moved back to the Bay Area to a stronger economy and to people who love me. I did get a great job. And, in the same week, cancer.
Now, my finances are ravaged. And, trust me, no one wants to be poor in Florida!
Yet, it is also not possible for me to remain in Marin, nor do I want to.
It’s challenging to rebound from my mental pit. I ricochet mid-sentence back-and-forth from despair to disbelief to acceptance and back again. It is boring and exhausting.
It is also my truth and hard to drop the story, when at every turn I am hitting walls and living out consequences of 2 decades lost to disease and 2 economic crises in 1 decade!
None of it was in my control nor my fault.
This is when I have to come back to breath and to the present moment.
In this moment, I am well and grateful. So, taking this one breath at a time…
Denise Blondo is a graduate from the MEA Alma Libre cohort led by their wise goddess, Vanda Marlow. She is a travel writer at heart and who writes vignettes to capture immediate snapshots of her internal and external landscapes. She hopes her story helps you to feel less alone.