this must be the place: a midnight ode to Sebring

25 03 2013

I love the way Florida sounds at night… there’s always some strange unidentifiable alien-like sounds coming from the lake that makes me feel like I’m in the jungles of Haiti. I can’t decipher if it’s cranes, frogs, insects, the highway or an audio-casserole of everything ricocheted off the water. This place has really grown on me, and I am happy to finally have that elusive feeling of having a place to call “home”. It has been quite a journey to get to this point, however. We moved to Sebring after a year long conversation about moving somewhere outside of Georgia. There were a few places we tossed around the idea of, and some of them were in Florida as well, but there was always something very romantic in the description and research about Sebring, and Todd had grown up here, so it became more and more on our radar. We stayed for a weekend in April last year; camped out at Highlands Hammock and stayed in a room at the Kenilworth Lodge (art noveau/ Spanish revival lakeside resort built in the early 20s). I was smitten the moment we got here. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but there was something really special about this place. We moved from Atlanta in mid May, after selling most of our possessions and packing the van up with kids, dog and whatever else could fit. The first few months were the typical new place honeymoon phase, exploring, visiting the beaches (about a 2 hour trek to either coast) and getting acclimated. Then it hit me. Like a freighter. I was homesick like I had never been homesick. I felt like my 21 year old self- crying in the kitchen of the Navy housing, barefoot and pregnant and alone. I missed my friends, I missed my family… I mourned, and dreaded and regretted, and blamed and turned into a real stink of hormones, emotions and ridiculousness. But I didn’t run from it, which is something I tended to do in the past, run to another country, city, whatever to avoid what is in my face. I went in the trenches with myself and I looked in the lens of the microscope. Slowly the community began to grow around me- there was the churches, the theater, the thrift stores… I walk nearly every where and live right in the heart of the town; which brings me to great interactions with amazing people. There is such a rich culture of people who live in this tiny little retirement community. Most people who grew up here or who have only passed through would probably never recognize this. But after living in many different cities, I think Sebring has become my favorite. There is some sort of social gathering, that is most often free or cheap happening nearly every weekend, and there is a great deal of honor and respect paid to eras gone and to the older generation here. There are a great number of artists and performers, and an appreciation as well as thirst for the arts. I can have a beautiful, deeply spiritual conversation that is void of dogma with a stranger in the produce aisle of publix, and I am almost guaranteed to run into at least one person I know daily. Sometimes, I think I made this place up, when I was a little girl. It is so reminiscent of the make-believe life I concocted when I was making my pretend movies in my grandparent’s basement. But above all else, to me, Sebring represents my undying faith in myself, and the strength of my will to not give up. I am growing, like a thistle in the summer sun. This must be the place.

(interesting side note: Highlands County is part of the Lake Wales Ridge- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Wales_Ridge  which is the ancient island that Florida once was. So we are living in a pretty ancient, sacred area here. And I’m pretty convinced this is yet another vortex)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMawfL1lE4k

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