I’m gonna tell y’all a dirty little secret of mine.
I have a little scenario that plays in the back of my mind. I concocted it when I worked at Fox Sports, was depressed, and was searching for something new. I needed an escape plan in case this whole LA Thing™ didn’t work. I think that what I came up with is pretty solid, albeit nostalgic as fuck.
So, here’s the secret: Sometimes I really, really miss living in Saint Augustine.
Florida is weird, but Saint Augustine is a special kind of weird. Ponce de Leon landed there in 1513 and drank from what he thought was the Fountain of Youth but turned out to be a spring of sulphur water. The town has been continuously inhabited since 1565, and it’s one of the only places in Florida that feels like it has a genuine story. Downtown Saint Augustine looks like Colonial Williamsburg discovered a stucco factory.
But if you’ve spent any time in Saint Auggie, you know that’s actually coquina.
It’s right on the water. There are these sick lion statues that guard the bridge over the river towards the Atlantic.
I moved to Saint Augustine in 2003 for Flagler College. Would you LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL my alma mater is?
STUPID, right?! Hogwarts of the South. That second picture is the entrance to my freshman dorms. I’m not even kidding.
I loved it the first year, but grew restless. It was a much tinier town when I lived there…you had to drive to Jacksonville if you wanted modern conveniences like malls or movie theaters. The world was simpler; Facebook didn’t exist until my sophomore year, PRAISE JESUS. I was more tightly wound back then. I needed more of everything: justification, praise, attention.
I miss the smell of Kilwins waffle cones on St. George Street and the bar on the rooftop of the San Sebastian Winery. I miss my first couple of drunken traipses around town. I miss genuinely being afraid of the ghosts. I miss driving on cobblestone. I miss that time that seemed so hard, but was actually incredibly carefree and inconsequential. I miss that feeling of life being so new.
My escape plan is there years old, but I hold on to it.
…I’d get in touch with my old theatre professors and miraculously, they’d need an adjunct professor! They’d let me direct a little black box production. The students would be obsessed with me and my joie de vivre. Maybe I’d work part-time at the winery again (GOD WILLING they still have their 2-free-bottles-a-week employee allowance). I’d live in and fix up the house that my parents moved into in 2006 and out of a few years ago. I’d make it all Mid-Century Modern and HIP, and include a little office that I’d use to build up my online presence and write stories and figure out where I was going next. I’d be there for maybe two years, and leave with solid teaching experience, a portfolio of plays I’d directed, and a beautiful little vacation house to return to. And maybe a surfer and I would fall in love with each other and he’d be cool with following me wherever I went next.
I adore Los Angeles. I love love love it here. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now…it’s just nice to have that bizarre, haunted little town as a safety net.