A couple of weeks ago, Lenny Kravitz took me to church.
I wish I could say that he showed up – all butter soft black leather and gold eyeliner – grabbed my hand and took me to the front pew of a rickety, ramshackle building where we sang Joyful Joyful and clapped until our hands hurt…
But no – he took me to church in the metaphorical sense. I saw him perform live and while I was shimmying barefoot on the grass as he belted out American Woman, I realized two things:
1. Lenny Kravitz might be Benjamin Button.
2. I am completely and unequivocally in love with West Palm Beach.
When I was eighteen, I was itching to leave my hometown. Like a character in a Springsteen song, I wanted to escape. When you live in the suburbs and spend your nights kicking around shopping plaza parking lots, it’s easy to believe that your town is full of losers and that you need to pull out to win.
God, I was bored. Not just bored but beset with a dull-edged combination of Richard Linklater’s Slacker ennui and Lindsay Lohan channeling Liz Taylor.
So, I left. Away to college and after that, 1000 miles up the Eastern seaboard in relatively close proximity to where Springsteen songs became a reality.
A little over a decade later, circumstance landed me back in West Palm.
Circumstance being a euphemism for shitty break-up.
I got into town on a Sunday afternoon – disconnected and weary. Everything was the same; everything was different.
I was days shy of thirty. I was back in the hometown I itched to escape and I had no fucking clue what I was going to do with my life. The promise and prospect of living in Los Angeles, having children and a happily ever after? It was all just dust in the rear view now.
And yet, I felt a sense of peace. No, my life wasn’t the J. Crew holiday catalog that I had envisioned it would be, but for the first time in a long while – I felt safe.
West Palm felt like home.
And home, as it turns out, is a pretty damn great place to be.
My parents made me promise to take a couple of months off to readjust and take a moment to breathe, so my plan was to spend an inordinate time on the couch, shower at irregular intervals and marathon watch the entirety of Netflix.
Luckily, the universe is smarter than I am.
Three days later, I was on a date. A really good one involving a very cute guy, prickly pear margaritas and live music. This night eventually lead to three things:
1. The realization that fruity margaritas are bullshit and I should stick to the classics.
2. A really cute boyfriend with an even cuter dog.
3. The aforementioned unabashed and abiding love for West Palm which in turn, lead to me exploring and rediscovering the town I grew up in.
I was bored because I was hanging out in suburban parking lots.
Once you get the hell out of the Steak ‘N Shake parking lot, there is an entire world out there.
A world with tattoo parlors and diners who hold art shows. A world featuring teeny little holes in the walls serving the best tacos, arepas and falafel sandwiches I’ve ever eaten (I don’t know who makes the creamy garlic sauce at the Middle Eastern joint on 5th but I love you).
A world where you can practice yoga on the beach. A world with a five day waterfront art and music festival where you see Trombone Shorty and Gary Clark Jr. rewrite the book on what it means to be a musician.
A world with a brewery where you can buy a beer that tastes like breakfast, farmer’s markets with teeny little piggies that you can pet while munching on the best apple cider donuts and where you can play bocce while sipping on champagne.
A world awash in live music – be it huge national acts or just a man and his acoustic guitar.
This world is interesting and colorful and diverse and it’s mine. Waiting for me – bright, juicy and ripe with promise just outside my front door.
I don’t just reside here; I live in West Palm.
And I have never felt more alive.