What do you even call this last decade? We had the early aughts (2000-2009), and we’re heading into the ’20s.. which feels weird to say.. but what do you call 2010-2019?
This was an extremely transformative ten years.
In June of 2010, my six year relationship with Matt finally crashed and burned. For real this time. It had been a slow burn. It should have ended sooner but he was comfortable and safe and he knew me. He knew how to handle me. He knew all my stories and I knew all his. And his family. and his demons and his victories. And then over night he became a stranger. I’m not sure what was going on in his head, but when he left me, he did it all at once. He never answered my middle of the night ugly cry phone calls. He never answered my texts full of sad song lyrics. He was a ghost. A part of me is sad that someone I knew so intimately is now a stranger. I wouldn’t know him if I passed him on the street. But part of me feels like that’s what I needed it to be. All of him or none of him.
In September of 2010 I went on one my most favorite vacations ever– my parents and I drove north to visit my brother in Boston. Aside from the excessive snow, Boston is my dream city. It’s so magical to me- all the history, the cobbled streets, the men in suits..swoon… I spent a week bopping around with my family, and then a few days with just Colby. We took the bus to Manhattan and wandered the perimeter of Central Park. I was rich on youth and BP oil spill money. Highlights of the trip– au bon pain + fresh beauty came into my life. And I went to like… three different Anthropologies in ONE city. Living LARGE.
In October of 2010 I took one wrong step and broke my ankle. It was a doozy. I would need surgery and be non weight-bearing for four months. It was an interesting time for me. I was totally reliant on my parents. As a 25 year old who had been out of the nest for a few years, this was difficult. Throughout my youth I did a lot of dumb stuff that ultimately grew my relationship with my parents. Every dumb thing taught me I could come to them, and be honest, and ask for forgiveness and help– and they showed up. Every single time. This was another dumb thing. A big dumb thing. And they showed up. I truly don’t know what I would have done if they weren’t in my corner. Fun fact- you can’t wait tables with a broken ankle. And my wild summers of waiting tables by day and partying by night left me feeling tired and ready for change. I was going to find a new job. It would be easy.
..it was not easy. I went on so many interviews. It was discouraging. And scary. is this my life now?? Do I have to wait tables forever??
In March of 2011 I was called to interview with Avant-garde Salon to be a salon coordinator (whatever that meant). I was so out of my element. EVERYthing was next level beautiful. The space was beautiful. The staff was beautiful. I remember Sharon was very kind and Deke was very intimidating. A few weeks later Sharon called to offer me the job. That feeling of thrilling accomplishment is still tucked away in my heart. This was my chance for a new start. Don’t mess this up, Fox. I met some of my dearest friends working at Avantgarde. Salon life taught me a lot about work and people and working with people- I would go on to manage a couple spas and so much of what I learned from watching Sharon and Deke stuck with me. The diplomacy, the make-it-work-ness, the struggle to manage crazy salon people and crazier salon employees. It’s hard work, rewarding, but hard.
In November of 2012 I met Nish. What started as doomed, long distance romance, has evolved into the sweetest, dearest friendship. I met Nish on the AJs dance floor. It was a whirlwind night, which ended with me not remembering his name and leaving without saying goodbye . A few weeks later we were reunited on the dance floor and this time I committed his name to memory. Nish. like fish..but with an N.. He was in town for a short TDY and would soon return to New Mexico. Nish was kind and exciting and devastatingly handsome. When work brought him to town we would be inseparable. And then he would leave. It wasn’t good for my heart. In 2013 Nish got stationed in Chattanooga, TN. I was deeply jealous that he had the excuse of work dictating where he would go next. I knew I wanted to leave Destin, but I didn’t want the responsibility to be on my shoulders. What if I chose incorrectly? What if I hated being somewhere new? He was the lucky one. I was stuck.
In March of 2013 Olive was born. The angel baby that turned my heart to goo. I have never felt more helpless in my life than when Meesh was trying to get pregnant. She wanted a little baby so badly and there was nothing I could do to make that happen for her. And now I’m holding this perfect little jelly bean made of squish and love and absolute magic. So. Many. Feelings. The thought of moving away completely left my mind. I wanted to be here, in Destin, watching this little girl grow and learn and become her own person.
In May of 2013 my best friend Sarah and I moved in together. The White Azalea was our adorable rental home in Mary Esther. A five minute walk to Target. A two minute drive to the drive thru Starbucks. Huge and cozy at the same time. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other living in that house.
In April of 2014 Sarah moved in with her (then) boyfriend, Brice. Another one bites the dust. I was a mess. I was working a job I really enjoyed, but I didn’t make enough to live on my own, I didn’t trust anyone else enough to live with them, I felt stuck.
The next few months were an interesting cluster of excitement. I moved back in with my parents. Nish started sending me job openings in Chattanooga and telling me how rad it was and how much I would love it. I was intrigued, and flattered he wanted me near him, but I wasn’t convinced.
In May of 2014 I quit my job at the salon and starting waiting tables at Pompano Joes again. But this time was different. I knew I had to get out of Florida. And the fastest way to do that was to stack an obscene amount of cash waiting tables at a tourist trap on the Gulf during peak season. The odds were in my favor. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I had never been so focused in my life. It was easy to say no to going out after work because I was working towards something bigger.
In July of 2014 I visited Nish in Chattanooga. It was a pretty drive. It was hotter than I was expecting. On my first night in town, he took me to a cute bar (The Social) and we ate cheese and had fancy drinks and went to an outdoor concert (Nightfall Concert Series), and walked along the river (Ross Landing). It was magic. That’s all it took. I was moving to Chattanooga. I stayed through the weekend. I explored mountains and neighborhoods, and started saying out loud “I’m moving to Chattanooga”. That was my plan.
In August of 2014 I had a phone interview with Jennie Gentry. It went well. To show my commitment, I offered to drive up to Chattanooga for an in person interview. The spa was gorgeous. High end, in a cool neighborhood. Jennie could not have been cooler, or more kind. Terri marathon-interviewed me, hoping I’d talk too much and mess up. I didn’t. I interview well. It’s the putting up with me afterward that is troublesome. I left Chattanooga feeling confident and terrified.
In September of 2014 I visited my brother in New Orleans. I was distracted. I was expecting a call from Jennie to let me know if I got the job. In my head I was thinking, “I need my salary to be X to say yes. If it’s not X, I’ll say no.” Easy. I get the call. Jennie offers me the job (!!!!!), but does not offer X salary. I ask if I could take the day to figure it out. She agrees to talk to me the next day. I hang up. I cry. I pull myself together. I tell Colby. He says to take the job and make it work. I confirm to myself I’m taking the job and I’m going to make it work. I cry. I call my parents. I’m moving to Chattanooga.
In October of 2014 I arrive in Chattanooga. I cry. A lot. I have never been this far from my parents. The first time I saw my apartment in real life was the day I moved into it. The good Lord had his hand on this. It was perfect for me.
In December of 2014 I turned 30. And could not go home for Christmas. It was the first Christmas I spent away from my parents. I cried. And then I made myself a quiche and took a long walk. I was okay. I chose this. Jennie Gentry invited me to the movies with her family. I will never forget that.
In January of 2015 Jennie Gentry leaves Center Medspa.
In April of 2015 Nish adopts Bunny and Pippa. The sweetest 7 month old kitten sisters I have ever seen. I wasn’t a cat person. But their scrawny necks and goofy dispositions won me over very quickly.
In September of 2015 I was fired from Center Medpa. I have never had so much peace about such a bummer situation. I wasn’t scared. I can’t explain it. I immediately started interviewing for something new. About a week later I was hired on at Natural Body Spa. I never missed one bill payment. The good Lord had his hand on this.
In December of 2015 I started attending Calvary Chapel.
In February of 2016 I attend Group Start at Calvary Chapel. Group Start is an incubator of sorts to form Small Groups/bible study. It was weird sitting down at a table of 8-10 strangers and figuring out if you’re going to be friends. We would be friends. It’s so weird the way God works. I end up co-facilitating the group with my now best friend Lindsey.
In April of 2016 I buy my first car by myself. That’s a lie. It takes a village. With guidance from my parents and Nish, I buy my first car. I learned a lot about loans, and fine print, and being a woman in a man’s world. But after a few weeks of negotiations, I got what I wanted. Fiona, my Honda Fit.
In August of 2016 Sarah and her (now) husband Brice move to England.
In March of 2017 I left my job at Natural Body Spa and took a reception gig at Scenic City Eye Care. This was intended to be VERY interim. A few months tops until I figured out my next move (career-wise. I for sure wasnt leaving Chattanooga).
In April of 2017 I stopped crying and throwing up everyday from stress. I started to understand my new job. I started to get pretty okay at selling glasses. I started to understand how to file to insurance. I started to understand the world of independent luxury eyewear.
In the summer of 2017 I learn Nish’s next duty station would be in Valdosta, GA. I’m terrified. When I tell stories of my life in Chattanooga, I leave out the part about Nish being a constant source of support. I tell it like I’m this wildly confident, brave, independent woman who leapt and the net appeared. And I am.. to a degree. But Nish was one making sure I had enough to eat, he was the one taking me on adventures, he was the one rubbing my back while I cried because I missed my mom so much it physically hurt. I wasn’t alone. When he moved, I would be alone.
In October of 2017 I discover the Enneagram. It consumed me. I learn I am the way I am on purpose. It’s not a quirk or a flaw or a trait to be embarrassed or self conscious of. I am ON PURPOSE. I learn how to love my friends better. It totally transforms my dynamic with Lindsey. Our friendship is a gift from God. On paper, I do not know how we are even friends.. but it is so rewarding to learn about what makes her tick and try to remember those things in our interactions. Putting other’s highest good over my own. I don’t get it right every (read:most) times, but it’s fun to try.
In November of 2017 Nish moved to Georgia. I got the babies out of the deal. I never thought I’d be a cat mom. But here we are. I fell in love with them all over. It was a totally different experience having them with me all the time, as opposed to just visiting them at Nish’s house.
2018 was a really lovely blur of goodness. I learned that I was okay being on my own without Nish. I made a really wonderful cat mom. I was thriving in my post Enneagram / The Surprising Purpose of Anger (another life changing book, please read it immediately) glow. I was enlightened and empowered. It was a good year.
In October of 2018 I said out loud “I am going to visit Sarah in England.” I had been afraid of this. I was afraid of the expense. I was afraid of being away from the babies. I was afraid of the flight. To combat these fears, I starting making a plan on paper. This is how much I would need to save to cover missing a week of work, this is how much a flight would be, this is what I could expect to spend every day. This is an emergency fund should something go sideways. And from that I had a number. A dollar amount that needed to be saved— in full — before the trip. The number was not nearly as daunting as I expected. Just like that summer of saving to move to Chattanooga, I had a goal to work toward. Every recreational dollar spent, I asked myself– is this worth not going to England?– and almost always, it wasn’t. I had amazing, trustworthy friends to keep tabs on my babies, and the flight.. well.. there’s medication for that kind of fear.
In February of 2019 I bought my plane ticket to England.
In April of 2019 I flew to England with two of my dearest friends. We spent seven full days exploring villages and eating and going on adventures. It was truly my most favorite thing I’ve ever done for myself. Traveling makes me feel wildly capable.
I am the happiest I’ve been in a very long time. I have a job I love with my whole heart- it brings me joy, is continually rewarding, and gives me a very specific sense of purpose. I have friends who I cherish. I am proud of myself for maintaining relationships with people who aren’t physically in my life every day. It takes effort to not only make friends as an adult, but to keep them…and I am really proud of the people in my circle. I love being a Chattanoogan. I love this city- its people, its mountains, its seasons, its charm…
I’m excited about the year to come. I have a podcast in the works. And more optical puns than I know what to do with. 2020– I’m coming for you!