A Reptile Dysfunction

My nephew Joe is obsessed with turtles.  Actually, he’s obsessed with all frogs, lizards, turtles, and other slimy, crawly creatures.  It’s bad enough to be called “a reptile dysfunction.”

But I have to say I’m with him on the turtle obsession.  Mine started around the time my oldest child was an infant.

My then-husband and I were at dinner one evening with a business associate, an older gentleman who had traveled extensively in his profession. I can’t for love or bubble gum remember much of the dinner conversation or even what we ate.  (Okay, that’s not exactly true.  Remembering the restaurant where we ate, I most likely had a salad with blue cheese dressing — the only appropriate dressing ever — and Cajun chicken pasta).

What I do remember about the evening was this one thing the man said:  “If you can get to the place in your life where you’re at home with yourself, then anywhere you go in this world is home.”

It’s profound.

It’s also the source of my turtle obsession.  I later found out that  Native Americans believe the turtle to be the most spiritual animal because a turtle always carries his home with him.

You see, I’ve spent the past seven months biding my time in Atlanta while my daughter finished high school.  The whole time, I was very vocal about wanting to be in St. Augustine instead.  And to make matters worse, during that seven months,  I barely even made it to my place at the beach because life and teenagers seemed to thwart my beach time at every turn.   It wasn’t all bad, though; I spent ten wonderful days in Italy and another ten fabulous days in Louisville, Kentucky, working on a master’s degree in writing.  And I have to say that during both trips, I congratulated myself on being kind of “turtley,” or feeling right at home where I was and not the slightest bit homesick.

My daughter graduated from high school Friday evening.  Now that my two older children have graduated and left the nest, it’s time for Mom to leave the Atlanta nest and finally make a new one in St. Augustine, Florida.

I got here to St. Augustine last evening, and for the first time since purchasing this house more than three years ago, I walked in and said, “I’m home.”  Until that point, you see, Atlanta had been “home” and St. Augustine had been the second home.  But somehow, last night, it was different.

And if I needed confirmation, this morning I saw a gopher turtle the size of a home-baked blackberry pie.  I told him to crawl like hell into the nearest dune and don’t come out of that shell until I sound the “all clear.”  Joe’s on his way down here today, and no reptile is safe until he goes back home to Atlanta.

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