How a Magic Hat changed my life

Four years ago, I made a list that answered this question: If everything was perfect in your life right now, what would it look like?

I think this is an important question to ask yourself every now and then. There are a lot of things in life that you can’t control, but there are plenty of things you can free yourself of, and sometimes it just takes a quick assessment to figure out what needs to change. In 2011 I knew my life wasn’t perfect, so I made a list of what would make it better. My 2011 “perfect life” list included things like: a membership to a hole-in-the-wall yoga studio and plenty of space and tools to paint, write and bake. I was definitely committed on finding a fun, fulling job. The thing that stands out to me the most now, though, is this: I wanted to love where I lived.

The funny thing is, this philosophy was inspired by a beer bottle. My “favorite” beer is Magic Hat. I put that in quotes because as Bret will tell you, it’s not my favorite tasting beer, but it’s my favorite beer because it comes with a fortune under the cap, or, in my case, life-changing advice. My favorite Magic Hat bottle top to date says, “love where you live and live where you love”. I stuck a magnet on it and slapped it on my fridge the day I moved to Florida and it smiles at me every day.

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Bret and I … we love Florida.

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I mean we LOVE our Disney trips and we LOVE that we can drive to the Gulf of Mexico in an hour, and we really, really, really love this place we live called Tallahassee.

I always get attached to places, but I’m not sure I’ve loved anywhere I’ve lived before as much as I love Tallahassee. After living in a cute, small town (Harrisonburg, VA) and then living in one of the largest cities on my own (Washington, DC), Tallahassee feels like the perfect fit. It has my favorite aspects about city life: I can walk to the mall, Panera, the grocery store, and a frozen yogurt shop right from my apartment. And it has the small-town charm I can’t live without: familiar people in in familiar places, local festivals, farmers markets, seasonal parades. It’s just perfect.

We both love it here, but, pretty soon, we’re going to be moving somewhere new.

Despite our best intentions, I know we’ll be swept up in the logistics of the move and then we’ll be busy getting acclimated to our new city and before we know it, our Tallahassee life is just going to be a memory. Before all of that happens, I’m making a point to focus on and enjoy this particular stage. I want to absorb all of this goodness that our Florida home offers. For the most part, that just means living out our regular routine but being extra intentional about the way we spend our time knowing that this may be our last weekend out to eat at this particular restaurant or that we should walk an extra lap around the lake because we only have so many walks left in this particular place.

I also wanted to make sure we can preserve all of these memories in a tangible way. That’s why I’m so glad we invited an incredible photographer (who happens to be one of my very best friends), Tiffany, down to Florida last weekend to photograph us living life in our favorite place before we move. I sent her a whole brochure about what I wanted to do while she and Erik (her husband/also my friend) were here.

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I can’t wait to get these pictures. I want to put them in frames and on canvases and hang them on my wall. I know it will be so nice to be able to “hold on” to these memories when I’m living in a colder climate and missing my Florida life. Eventually, I want to get them in an album, too, so if we ever have kids, I’ll be able to show them how awesome our Florida life was before they were born. I’m kidding (kind of).

Before Tiffany and Erik arrived, I made a list of places I want to be sure to visit. It was so hard to narrow it down: all of my favorite spots in downtown Tallahassee, FSU’s campus that brought us here in the first place, the coffee shop where Bret practically lives, and my new favorite cupcake shop. We went to the Farmer’s Market, to FSU’s campus, and all around our favorite Tallahassee places. We also ate at nearly EVERY one of our favorite restaurants. It was excessive, but wonderful. It meant so much to me to have these wonderful friends in town.

Making this list made me all sappy about this place we’ve lived for the past few years. Here are just a few of my favorite Tallahassee things I’m going to miss so dearly…

All the palm trees

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My hole in the wall yoga studio

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The North Florida State Fair. If you don’t love it, hush. I love it.

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My Annual Disney Pass

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The Tallahassee Museum

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All of the FREE water sport rentals because Bret is a grad student

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Skies over Tallahassee in the planetarium. And the iMAX.

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The Downtown area

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The Greenway – where we’ve attempted to train for a 5K multiple times.

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Downtown Get Down. It’s like a pep rally for 100,000 people.

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The Jingle Bell Run & all of the festivals

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Southwood & my Giraffe Tree & the armadillos we’ve seen there

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The people.

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The Food.

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The French Pastry shop.

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Sigh.

When I think about saying goodbye to all of these things, it hurts a little. I recently texted my sister – desperately – about how much I’m going to miss the Winter Wonderland Festival and Candy Cane Lane next December. She texted me back,

“You’ll find another Candy Cane Lane. You always do.”

To me, that was so comforting. When I feel doubtful, I remind myself that the core things that I was craving in 2011 are now life constants: a brilliantly secure relationship, my perfect orange cat. I didn’t KNOW I needed a free kayaking option, a sushi restaurant that feels like home, or access to a French pastry shop. So even though I don’t exactly know what I’m getting myself into with this new move, and even though it isn’t exactly what I had in mind, it may just be THE thing I need in my life right now.

And let’s be honest. The best part of Tallahassee, for me, has been Bret. Living here together away from our core group of friends and our families has taught us how to rely and depend on each other in a way I’m not sure we would have had to otherwise. We started our married life here. We’ve grown closer together here. And we know that as long as we have each other, any place we live will be just as sweet.

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Even though, if you asked me, I’d tell you I’d be happy to stay in this cozy Tallahassee place for a few more years, I would have stayed in Harrisonburg forever if a job hadn’t pulled me somewhere new. I think after I plop that magic hat beer bottle top up on our fridge, it will be easy to fall in love with the next place we call home. Sometimes you have to move to find out what else is out there. It’s a big world. I’m ready for the next big adventure.

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