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Mary Elizabeth Says ‘Goodbye’ to Jacksonville

My lease on the floor of my sister's one bedroom apartment is up.

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.

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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.

Got a suggestion for something thing Mary Elizabeth should try?  Post a comment below!

2 Responses »

  1. Good read... and the best of luck to you.

    The New River, doesn't that flow from West Virginia into Virginia? I recall that area as rustic and scenic. Oh well, where ever you are... your writings indicate you'll make the most of it and enjoy what the area offers.

  2. Ms. Robertson's method of journalism is entertaining and factual. She is extremely talented and fresh and I look forward to following her stories with The Jacksonville Observer.

    What a wonderful choice for Jacksonville's voice!