Sam answered on the second ring.
“Why hello there,” his familiar voice rang out. Still warm, still friendly, but softer, frailer than I remembered.
“Guess what?” I ask.
“You’re coming back.” It wasn’t a question. I giggled to myself at the quiet sureness.
“How did you know?”
“Well, when you left, you said you’d return, you just didn’t know exactly when.”
I smiled at his recollection. At the truth of it.
It’s been nine years since I left St. Pete for Atlanta. Even though I’d only lived there a couple of years, St. Pete is the only place I’ve truly felt “home.”
When I departed in 2013, I was excited to leave, to start a new life in my old state. But I told folks on both sides of the GA/FL line, that I’d return to the sunshine state one day.
“I’ll be back,” I’d told my Floridian friends. “I’m not sure if it’ll be five years or ten, but at some point, I’ll be back.”
At first, I actively counted down the years until we could go back. But eventually, I found myself in a groove, no longer X-ing days off my calendar.
Sooner than I expected, opportunity and circumstance coincided, and we decided that the time was now.
So here we are, surrounded by boxes and tape and markers, finalizing all the things one must make final before picking up a life and moving it elsewhere.
In just over two weeks, we’ll be making our way back to the land of sun.