It's been three weeks today since I packed up my life, cried my way across the state and arrived in Gulf Shores. I was a hot mess. It was the Friday of Memorial Day and traffic was a bitch. The movers were sweet, young boys who sprinted up and down the one flight of stairs with half of my life's possessions. They put things where they needed to be and left me alone. The dogs inspected the new place, but could not be settled.

Without the basic needs for a new house, I hurried to Target. Surely my happy place would lighten the mood. No. I loaded the cart with new dog beds, toilet paper, wine, a corkscrew, snacks, and water. I lugged it all up the stairs, quickly realizing how one flight of stairs would either change my shopping addiction OR trim my tush. The dogs were relieved upon my return. I put things where they should go and attempted to calm the boys. Again, they were none too pleased with my life decision.

I slumped down on the screen-in porch and cried as the evening's heat grasped me tightly. Tears poured. Continuously flowing down my cheeks. I made no noise. A brave face was needed, but couldn't be found. Wine could. "Just function," I said to myself. "Do, don't feel." The busier I forced myself to be the less the emotions could control me.

New, crisp white sheets were tucked onto the familiar bed. The fan above swirled the stale air. I hung shower curtains, unpacked 15 boxes and three suitcases then showered. Without television or Internet the place was quiet, amplifying the loneliness and fear. "It's going to be okay," I whispered to Jake Ryan, "I promise you." Even I didn't believe myself. I scooped up all 24 pounds of him, placed him on my bed, did the same with Poncho and called it a night.

The next three weeks were a blur of fear, tears, excitement, regret, and confusion. I started work five days after moving. The boys have adjusted to living inside, I think, or at least I attempt to convince myself. We walk and run a lot, at least four times a day with two of those walks being about two miles. I've attempted to run, but the heat has made it impossible. Shopping and exploring take up the majority of my time. Often I've put the boys in the car and just driven through the back roads of Baldwin County. It's farm country and breathtaking! We've seen deer, snakes armadillos, and more. If we see alligator warning signs, we head the other way.

I purchased some new living room furniture. Once it arrived, the place began to feel like more than a stop-over.

I'm extremely proud to be part of the team at work. They're doing amazing things. Every day people take their passion and put it to work, rebuilding the Gulf Coast. I am humbled to sit amongst them. I have been given the chance to produce a few events with US Olympians. Leaving Huntsville was hard, but I never would be exposed to this level of community building, public relations, and recovery. For that, I am pleased beyond words.

I miss my friends terribly. I miss the family. I miss the familiarity of a town that was home for 13 years. But this one year is a gift. And I've got to take it for all its worth. One year, community building, and the beach.

The dogs are fine. I am going to be okay. Nah, take that back. I'm going to be fucking fabulous.


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