Once again, it’s a work, eat, sleep, repeat day. I even warmed up leftover beef stew for dinner, so there’s not a recipie to post. But I tell everyone how much I enjoy living in Jacksonville, and particularly out on this side of the Intercoastal Waterway. So, sort of like talk show hosts do Open Phones when they don’t really have a topic or guest, I’m here to tell you why I love living at the beach.
When I first moved down here, I knew there were some great little neighborhoods in Jacksonville. And if there wasn’t a beach, I’d live in any one of them. Funky little spots with cool restaurants and bars and shops in walking distance of houses I might have been able to afford back then. Riverside, 5 Points, heck, if there wasn’t a beach, and I was 25 years younger, one of the hip apartments going in downtown would have been perfect. But I’d always told myself that, given the opportunity and means, I’d want to live near the beach. Moving to Jacksonville gave me both.
When I was first talking to people who lived “across the ditch”, they all mentioned the same thing. There’s a palpable feeling you have as you cross the Intercoastal. You just do. It’s almost as if the pressure of the day sort of dissolves as you come across that little ribbon of water. An “ahhhhhhhhhhh” that almost involuntarily escapes from deep in your lungs as you come over the bridge … particularly when your radar detector isn’t screeching that there’s a speed trap set up on the beach side of the bridge. Jimmy Buffett sang “I want to go where the pace of life’s slow, would you beam me somewhere, Mr. Scott”, but I don’t need a transporter to scatter my disassembled molecules through an energy beam to get there … I just have to come across a bridge.
Now, there’s always at least one moron who’s screaming over the bridge because he or she has to get to their favorite beach bar. They don’t know the feeling. To them, it’s just another spot to drink and try to hook up. But for those of us that actually keep our flip-flops under the bed out here, those people are mostly an annoyance. They do, however, take up way too much of our parking. I still think a segway may be in my future … or a Vespa.
It’s not without it’s challenges. Stuff corrodes and rusts. Some people who live right on the beach risk losing their houses to the ocean … but they know that, or they should, when they buy the place. And occasionally the mosquitoes and no-see-’ems can be really, really vicious. And half the year there’s the threat of a hurricane. But it’s worth it for the “ahhhhhhhhh” coming across the bridge.
It’s not for everyone. After the 2004 storms, and we didn’t even really get a hurricane, I know several people who moved inland. I understand that, and I respect their choice. We bought flexible hurricane shutters, and stocked up our hurricane kit. As long as I can be here, this is where I plan to be.