an open love letter to tampa.

by - 02:02


Tonight, there were tears.  There were laughs.  There were hugs.  But above all else, there was love.  A lot of it.  My nearest and dearest friends here threw me the fondest of farewell shindigs.  And I could not have been more touched by it, truly.  We drank some beers.  I made a speech.  Oh, boy, did I ever.  I wanted to say so much more than I did, and I had originally intended to do so.  At the last minute, I thought, "Fuck it.  I'm going to wing it."  And wing it I did.  I *think* I managed to get everything out-- at least, all the important things.  Although I managed to somehow flub my way into speaking by trying to recall what I had written, there were a few many things I feel I may have left out.  I actually wrote it out, but didn't follow through with reading it partly because I was nervous to read in front of people, but also because I was too lazy to find my bag to find search for the original words.  Ha.  Anyway, here is the original speech I had prepared.  It is so much more eloquent than what I had actually spoken.  And I hope, I can only hope, that people know that I mean everything I say in it.

Where do I even start?  This is a doozy.  A long letter.  I can already feel it before having written even the first real lines.  But here goes.

The last (almost) six months have been a surreal fog that I've managed to walk through relatively unscathed.  How that happened, I'm not sure.  I don't know how six months have passed already.  In many ways, it feels like it flew by but in other ways, it has felt like the longest six months of my life.  It feels like I was in a perpetual state of waiting or being put on hold, like I was in a purgatory that was in a non-dead, but not quite so alive, place.  Sort of like the waiting room of a doctor's office you will eventually have to go into but are afraid to because of the inevitable prognosis.  But what was I so afraid of?  Was I so afraid to continue to live my life as fully as I possibly can?  Is there guilt in that?  There shouldn't be, but I think it's a very human emotion to feel some semblance of guilt because (dare I say it?), the greatest loss I've ever had to face in my life is giving birth to the greatest possibilities and dreams I could have ever imagined doing.  Lifelong friendships with soul mates have been created, so many travel plans have been arranged, and the reality that I am actually moving out of Florida is truly happening.  Would any of these things be happening if what happened hadn't actually happened?  I can't really say, but I have a feeling that perhaps things wouldn't be coming into fruition as seamlessly as they have been.

Nearly five years ago, Tampa was a place I came back to after several years abroad.  Never intending for this place to actually become "home", it inherently evolved into home after I fell in love with a person who, unbeknownst to me at the time, everyone already adored.  Ryan had a quiet wisdom, a silent heroism.  He was always so unassuming and that was part of what made him charming.  Guys thought he was cool and funny, girls thought he was cute and smart.  Yet, he never, not once, ever thought that about himself.  What a jerk.  He always said he was lucky to have me in his life; honestly, I was the lucky one.  I feel like I am a better person because of him.  And I know everyone who had the pleasure of ever knowing him feels like for that brief moment in time that he was a part of their lives, it was wonderful, funny, and things were just as they should be.

Through him, because of him, as a result of his network of people and friends, I was welcomed with open arms and eventually adopted into this crazy-weird, incestuous, loving community sprawling from Ybor to Seminole Heights to Tampa Heights, everywhere in between and everywhere beyond.  But I didn't even have the chance to show any gratitude or appreciation to him for that.  However, what I do have are the people in my life who are here to stay.  (I want to name-drop everyone, but that would take hours so I'll spare you that list.)  And besides, you all know who you are.

I've been faced with some criticisms.  I've been given the looks of pity.  And to that I say, please stop.  I really don't need anyone to lay the guilt on thick for me, nor do I want anyone to feel sorry for me.  Ever.  I never asked for any of this and yet...in moments of crisis, I've come to realize that there are those who step it up in the best way possible, and those who just don't.

Conversely, I have also heard so many kind words of encouragement.  The support has been overwhelming and the notion that people--so many people--have so much faith in me and my abilities has been paramount.  Of course I have doubts.  I have absolutely second-guessed myself.  I have to wonder how my decisions will affect my life in the long run, but more importantly, how they will affect Anaïs and her future because, let's face it, she is the number one reason I am truly able to keep moving forward.  I have no choice in the matter.

It's bittersweet to be here at New World because so much of our life was here--all of our celebrations and one gigantic tragedy.  Admittedly, it is all so much sweeter than it is bitter, which is, of course, a good thing.  I will be back and I will be back fairly often, make no doubt about it.  The roads go both ways, though, so I anticipate many a visit to Atlanta from you guys, too.  It all comes full circle to say good bye in the place that I said hello.  And so onward I go.

Thank you all for coming here today.  My heart has exploded into a million pieces.

I cant even begin to wrap my head around what's about to happen.  All I know is, it's about to get real.  Real real.  And that's not even the half of it.  






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5 comments

  1. you are so loved.
    and you've got this.
    xoxoxo

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  2. so crazy excited for you. good luck with the move! what are you going to do??

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  3. much admiration tanya.
    people look at those of us who have gone with tragic losses with their fear of how they would deal with it. to that, I have to keep my peaceful filters on my eyes, and dont let it bother me and like you, remiind myself that the world and this life, do not stop.
    stay in touch and send me your snail addy once you get settled.

    so much love from the golden state xxom

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  4. I don't really know you but I feel I know a little bit more about you after reading this. you have been through changes that most of us would rather avoid for most of our lives. That isn't to be and if we must face times like this, it is better to be able to face them bravely.

    I wish you and your daughter all the best in your new home. I hope you find lots of open arms there, just as you did before.

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  5. Anonymous6.3.13

    Hey, Tiger Mom,
    So pleased that you are moving. I waited to write to you in order to make sure that you were able to make the move happen. The decision to move is hard to make under most circumstances, and then the logistics start to make things even cloudier at times. Nonetheless, many years ago, I took the "dog" (known by people with cars as "Greyhound") to Atlanta. Next, I moved to Japan. After that, I lived in Ottawa, where I began a long process of dealing with my father's death--not seeing him for five years while I was in Japan was not the easiest thing I ever had to contemplate at that time in my life. Onto to New York next. Off to Ethiopia after leaving New York only to stop by the confines of Plattsburgh, NY on the way to Japan, which where I met you. It all started in Atlanta for me. I realized there that I could make my dreams into reality. I hope that Tampa will be that sort of place in your memories. Still dealing with a brain tumor here so not much time to write. Tomorrow it's off to yet another appointment with my partner-in-crime. We hope that your move to Atlanta is as smooth as smooth can be.
    Cheers!
    R.S.

    ReplyDelete

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