When I was 23, I started a blog under the name America Behind Me. I had recently come to stay at my (gracious and supportive of her freeloading progeny) grandmother’s summer home on Cape Cod. I was burned out from my recently completed Bachelor of Music Education degree and subsequent less-than-a-first-year of teaching. I had a good job offer but everything in my gut was pulling me north. I knew I was of the age that one did such things as pile some guitars and Nutella in the back of your pickup tarp and drive for 24 hours up I-95. I had $200 on me, hopes to start a music lesson teaching business, and lots of downtime. It wasn’t idyllic at the time, but looking back I consider it a sweet season of my life.
A newlywed friend of mine had her own blog and I wanted to try my hand at what seemed like a new, quaint field — an extension of LiveJournal with more customization options. I wracked my brain for a blog title and was struck by this quote from Henry David Thoreau in his book Cape Cod:
The time must come when this coast will be a place of resort for those New-Englanders who really wish to visit the seaside. At present it is wholly unknown to the fashionable world, and probably it will never be agreeable to them. If it is merely a 10-pin alley, or a circular railway, or an ocean of mint-julep, that the visitor is in search of, if he thinks more of the wine than the brine, as I suspect some do at Newport, I trust that for a long time he will be disappointed here. But this shore will never be more attractive than it is now. Such beaches as are fashionable are here made and unmade in a day, I may almost say, by the sea shifting its sands. Lynn and Nantasket! This bare and bended arm it is that makes the bay in which they lie so snugly. What are springs and waterfalls? Here is the spring of springs, the waterfall of waterfalls. A storm in the fall or winter is the time to visit it; a lighthouse or a fisherman’s hut the true hotel. A man may stand there and put all America behind him.
My initial posts were not the love song to the Cape that my pilfering of Thoreau’s beautiful homage would suggest. During the five months or so I spent on the Cape that summer and into winter, I was preoccupied with trying to make money. I got a part time job at an office supply store. I tried to make arts and crafts and garden on a shoestring budget. I burned some iron-on adhesive into my grandmother’s iron and I drove down 6A from Yarmouth to Provincetown in the fall and it was one of the most exciting and beautiful things I’d done. I sat at the coffee shop on the corner (which was perfect, happened to have Wi-Fi, and played Sirius XM The Coffeehouse nonstop until it ultimately folded within a year or two like so many other hopeful Route 6 businesses). I wrote about my small adventures and my personal musings, but at the end of the day, Yarmouth in the winter was no place for my 23-year-old self, as independent as I fancied myself to be. I wanted to be somewhere that felt a little less like Florida.
My travels after that point took me to the Boston area, where I lived and worked and found success and transformative experiences for 8 years. Now, life has found me back in Florida, in the southern part of the state this time, where the presence of iguanas and coconuts everywhere I look has not yet lost its luster. My blog has started and stopped many times over the years, but I never found my footing.
Now I find myself wanting to write again, and so I’ve come back home to the possibility that Thoreau’s words awakened in me those years ago. Sometimes you know that you need something new. Sometimes you know that you need to take care of that part of you that wants to be creative just for creativity’s sake. Sometimes you want to write, whether or not you know you’ll have an audience. So often in my life, I haven’t given myself the time to be still, to be creative, to be thoughtful. I’ve been running around frantically trying to get things in order and it’s left me tired in more ways than one. I’m sure I’ll look back on this blog post and thing “man, that was cheesy,” but this time I’m not going to delete it. I’m going to see where it takes me.