Day three of Clearwater: sun, good food, friends, and lots of firsts for Nate.
Although I took him here when he was a baby, this is the first time he has actually been able to really get into it. Flew in with mom and dad Wednesday night, during which time he tried gum for the first time (couldn't quite get the hang of it) and yelled "We're going to CRASH!" at top of his lungs mid-air. Other than that, it was a great flight, and he looked like a pro traveler wheeling his little Thomas the Train luggage through Tampa Airport.
Although I took him here when he was a baby, this is the first time he has actually been able to really get into it. Flew in with mom and dad Wednesday night, during which time he tried gum for the first time (couldn't quite get the hang of it) and yelled "We're going to CRASH!" at top of his lungs mid-air.
Other than that, it was a great flight, and he looked like a pro traveler wheeling his little Thomas the Train luggage through Tampa Airport.
Had an exceptionally good meal of huge bay scallops that night and drove across the bridge in a torrential downpour (hey Sunshine State). I should mention that they gave me a pseudo mini van at the rental car place. And no, mom, even this one's "sporty" style don't make me want to go to the dark side and drive one.
Kiddo was hilarious at the hotel -- "is this my bed? is this my TV?" and was most entertained by staying in a real live hotel. This enchantment, combined with luggage handling skills, leads me to believe he actually might be able to do my job. But that's another story entirely.
Started yesterday at Lenny's, which rightfully claims itself as"Clearwater's Best Breakfast." It completely is. They have an insane pancake selection, but I love their bagel and lox, and devoured it amidst decades of Clearwater and Phillies memorabilia. (The Phillies train here and it's their official restaurant.) Don't even get me started but Birmingham does not have enough good breakfast places like this, so I was all about having a third and fourth cup of coffee.
From there we visited with Nani. Nate was very sweet and sang "You Are My Sunshine" to her, which I got on video (love the new Flip) and will upload during a time in which he isn't napping as he is now. We listened to a banjo player who performs for the residents, and Nate was in his element singing and dancing. Four generations together is a rare thing for us, so we enjoyed the moments.
Then as Nate napped I drove over to the Poynter Institute. Poynter is a special place to me, because it's where my love of journalism really was solidified during two summers of high school writing camp. It was a little strange to go back 17 years later as a speaker, but I was honored that they asked.
Walking through the halls I felt as nervous as a 15 year old showing up for her first day of class, only now I was on the other side of the podium. It was exhilarating to stand in front of a room of 38 teenagers eager to talk about writing and how its changing.
What was most exciting was to hear their enthusiasm and passion for storytelling. It made me forget about the negativity that permeates our media culture, as newspapers close and publications struggle.
I hope that I gave them a fair and balanced account of what it's like to work in this industry, and encouragement to ride the crazy roller coaster of a writing life. I certainly got a lot of energy from them, and most of all a boost that the next generation of journalists and communicators are incredibly sophisticated and intelligent.
This morning we took Nate to Clearwater Beach, which was another deja vu moment. I can't think of anything better than being with my little dude on the beach where I grew up. Even better, mom and dad were there to see his reaction of going in the Gulf for the first time (liked the waves, not so crazy about the salt water), feeding the seagulls, and playing in the sand.
We were joined by my childhood friend Julie and her two adorable kids. I will say that as much as I love Birmingham, I do miss things about the place where I spent the first 18 years of my life, including old friends and the beach. From there I went to lunch with my friend Courtney, and now back to the magical hotel.
So it's good to be home, where I am getting a little blonder but hopefully not sunburned. Good to eat New York breakfasts and Tampa Cubans, and show Nate this place that is etched into my identity. Helps remind me who I am too, with its pink flamingos and powdered sand. Tonight we're going to the Palm Pavilion to watch the sun set and eat grouper sandwiches. What else could a girl ask for?