Five years ago, when my husband and I were thoroughly enjoying a cold beer on our back porch after cleaning up after Hurricane Charley, we developed a Five Year Plan to move to Lake County. Four months later (yes, that’s right….MONTHS), we were moving in to our new home in unincorporated Eustis. Clearly, our plan was the right one, we were just a little off on the timing. There’s alot to be said for divine intervention and I’m convinced that this was God’s plan long before it was ours.
So, here we are, both of us loving our new lives in Lake County. I decided nearly immediately that I just couldn’t continue the daily drive into downtown Orlando and was fortunate enough to find local employment quickly. Steve worked in Volusia County for a time, but is now serious about building his own practice and is charging forward in pursuit of that goal. My pride and joy moved home, got serious about classes at Valencia and is now working at the Mount Dora Historical Society, planning to start at UCF next semester. After we got tired of reading one sided opinion about some of the issues we are involved with in Lake County, we canceled our subscription to the Sentinel and started taking the Daily Commercial. So we’re pretty much as Lake County as we can be.
But we’ve only recently begun to experience the charms of the city of Eustis. It’s not that we haven’t been to the big city…we started investigating soon after we settled in. But because we still have strong ties to Orange County and I’m working in Sorrento, we generally drift in that direction and find ourselves heading south rather than west. It has been hard to identify ourselves with Eustis when the reason we went there used to be Tractor Supply, Luigi’s and some auto parts store (I cannot work up enthusiasm for parts unless they’re for little British cars, so forgive me for not remembering the name). But lately, we’ve found so many reasons to trek to Eustis that I’m starting to think of myself as a resident of Eustis rather than a resident of East Lake County. It’s a subtle shift, but important because we’re starting to really sink some roots now.
I think the first thing that happened was Olivia’s Coffeehouse. You know I love me some fine coffee, and I am always able to get just that at Olivia’s. Additionally, I can always find someone to share a table and play a game with, or if it’s open mic night I’m sure to hear some great music, and of course Olivia and Fred are worth the trip just for their smiles. Then the little downtown shopping district caught my eye when it was lit up for Christmas last year.
The city decided to leave the Christmas lights up through GeorgeFest, which was the next big thing that got my attention. I’m not a fan of crowds, but this year Steve and Alex were competing in the shopping cart race. You may remember, if you’re a regular reader, that they won this race, using superior strategy, skill and physical prowess. Well, of course I had fun watching them outsmart the other teams, but then I stayed for the parade. And loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I went back in the afternoon to watch the Citrus Smash. What a great day! And everytime I think of it, I can’t wait for 2010 GeorgeFest so I can play my whole weekend around GeorgeFest. Here’s how exciting GeorgeFest was: I made Steve join the Eustis Chamber of Commerce and am now pestering him to get on the GeorgeFest committee. Ha ha, see why he loves me so much?
So after GeorgeFest, we have been spending more time in Eustis. I just love the public art. I think Eustis may be the only part of Lake County that even has public art!
Currently, the city is performing a survey related to Business Expansion and Retention; I’ve been lucky enough to meet some Eustis business owners while conducting the survey, and it’s apparent that business loves Eustis. One recurring theme that keeps coming up during the surveys is that the City is headed in the right direction and things are improving for business – even in this economy! So perhaps Eustis loves business, too, and they’re building a lovely friendship. 🙂
I’ve made a few stops in the Habitat for Humanity thrift store, bought some produce from the little produce stand and also Clemons, can’t keep myself out of Tractor Supply and Big Lots, and am just generally checking out this and that on a fairly regular basis.
The other day I was driving up 19 headed for Olivia’s and I realized, hey…this is really close to home and I love Eustis! I think this identifying with a place rather than a job is so good for me. It means that yes, I’ve found home and it’s real and my life is on such an upward trend for the past 30 years that I know God’s working hard with me.
A job that keeps me busy and constantly engaged in learning about new things, chickens, bees, an improved relationship with Alex, continually being surprised and delighted by Steve, new friendships and an appreciation for contentment…how can I NOT be in paradise when I’m surrounded by all this?
I’m so thankful to be home.
(I hope YOU are at home, as well. I’d love to hear about why your home is home to you.)