Mary Elizabeth Says ‘Goodbye’ to Jacksonville
I have packed my car, folded up my air mattress and removed the last of my belongings from the closet I was given.
I spent two months and a few days in Jacksonville. I went new places and ate new foods. I worked out in ways I had never sweated before. But all-in-all I had fun.
My arrival in Jacksonville was marked by storms. I was not prepared for rain every day. Not a long storm, like the summer storms I am familiar with at home, but a quick rain, thunder and lightening show—just enough to spice up the day, and make me carry my raincoat in my car everywhere I went.
I lived the dream summer of a college student, every night blowing up an air mattress and folding it up every morning. I sat out in the Florida sunshine and am happy to say I am departing with the darkest tan I ever have received from the sun.
I biked to the beach every afternoon. At home, such a trip is carefully planned and executed, and gas mileage and hotel prices are split between friends. Here, I got some much needed exercise and relaxation as I rode only blocks away to the nearest public beach access.
Salmon, crab legs and shrimp became a regular part of my diet, instead of a special meal from the Red Lobster. I finally made it to Chowder Ted’s. I was most impressed with the pot of chowder-served in an actual pot. That, the fish sandwich, and the company of Chowder Ted’s employees made for a delicious meal.
I learned a new dance to make my parents proud, shagging-ironic, right? I perfected my kayaking and river floating capabilities, and am fully prepared to take my polished practice for a spin on the New River, or the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Bonding over “Sex and the City 2,” or “The Bachelorette,” I met some amazing women who joined me for a birthday celebration at Salt Life Restaurant, moving to The Brix for the after party.
After watching the Jacksonville Suns play a game, I was inspired to take my new found love for the game on the road. I ventured to Atlanta to watch and enjoy a Braves game. If the Carolina Speed ever comes back to Charlotte, I will be making an appearance in the audience.
I went to the zoo, where I was convinced I saw some of my relatives behind the cages. The penguins in a warm environment shocked me at first, but I surprised myself at the ability to learn something new at a trip to the zoo at the age of 21.
I still Facebook just as much as I did at the start of the summer, but my status updates are filled with links to my columns and clues as to what I am doing, much cooler than my peers. I am scared about having to start a new semester and the imminent cold waiting for me back at Appalachian State University.
I’ll miss the fabulous lifestyle I have come to love the past two months. In Florida, everyone seems to enjoy life, and everyone completes their wardrobe with a smile.
While I am going to take the skills I have developed while here (particularly kickboxing and my stint as a golfer) home with me, I will take the memories of a fabulous, unforgettable summer.
So thank you, Jacksonville. You provided me with the best summer I’ve had yet. I know I will come back to visit as much as you allow me. Thank you for welcoming me into your restaurants and into your venues. I hope you enjoyed this journey as much as I did.
Get ready, though—you may not survive my next visit.
Mary Elizabeth Robertson is a journalism student spending her summer on the First Coast. She'll be interning for the Jacksonville Observer and writing a twice-weekly column about her experiences called New Girl in Town.
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