I did something I thought rather brave when I went to Florida. In fact, I'm rather in awe about it looking back.
It was this: I only took one camera lens.
This is nearly a miracle for a photographer who routinely carries four, five, or even six lenses at a time.
I ordered a couple new pieces of equipment not long before my trip in preparation for the 2016 business year (a 35mm lens and an 85mm lens) and took a huge leap of faith by taking only the 35mm with me. Every photo I took in Florida was with the brand new 35mm lens I had hardly even used before. But it turned out awesome. Landscapes, flowers, cat pictures... I have never been more thankful that I didn't haul around my whole 20+ pound lens entourage!
(PS, I know this is a Florida-in-kitties post, but I practiced with both new lenses on Thor and Loki prior to my departure so I'm throwing those pictures in too. ;))
Nameless Toasted-Marshmallow Kitty
(The above kitten was a stray who showed up around dinnertime one night just begging for love. He hung around for like two days meowing nonstop and taking all the snuggles, food, and water we offered him!)
Nearly two years I've been away, and coming up on three since I actually lived there, in the creamy golden twilight of Sebring.
I am glad that the first return visit was over, and the torrential emotions that came with it. Still, it was hard to be back, but not fully; to know that I only had a week to step back into the many relationships I formed there made it that much harder to jump in with both feet and set myself up for the inevitable pain of yet another goodbye.
But I did, as best I could... and as always, it was worth it.
I didn't know when I first moved to Florida three years ago that my sense of what is home would change so much. It's like my concept of a perfect home, that idealistic place I thought I had achieved as a child, completely shattered when I left it - and all the broken pieces were thrown to the four winds, never to be reassembled fully this side of heaven.
At first there was only pain, and I hated it. But it has become a part of me now, and in some ways, I like it. Whether I'm in Olympia or Goldendale or Martinsburg or Sebring, there is a constant pricking in my heart that I have grown to welcome - a reminder that I am only a visitor in a foreign land, waiting to be called back to my true native country.
And even while I wait here on earth, my heart is fuller. My circle is bigger. My support system is stronger. My God is greater.