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The more things change…

September 10, 2008

It might seem weird that I would make my return to his blog after something of a length abscence with a post about – of all things – a gas station closing but that’s where I found myself when I read an article on (my former employer) about the closing of a local convenience store.

Yes, it seemed odd to me that my first post in a while wouldn’t be about the upcoming USC/Ohio State game, or the Eagles/Cowboys Monday night matchup over which I am frothing, my brief encounter with Tropical Storm Hanna or my reticent love for two new shows on Fox and FX respectively, but instead about the closing of the Tom Thumb convenience store at the corner of Kelly Street and Main Street in Destin, Florida.

In life, anywhere you are, there are postcard locations. Places that serve as a bookmark, or a dog-eared page that symbolize for you a series of important – or unimportant – moments that sum up a certain time you spent somewhere or with someone. In a strange way, that convenience store, that Tom Thumb represents why I enjoyed living in Destin, the tiny fishing village that came to accept me as one of their own, and that I came to grow and love as my home.

The Tom Thumb was the architypical corner store. It was about two miles from my girlfriend’s house and I would pass it at least four times a day, sometimes very early morning, sometimes very late at night but it was always there, (almost) always open. I’d peer in the parking lot to see if I recognized any of the cars parked in the lot, and it was at places like this, places off the controlled chaos and gridlocked jungle of U.S. 98, away from the skyscraping high-rise condominiums and uprise shopping centers that the heart of Destin could be found. In truth, this convenience store was one of the critical pieces of the soul of this town, and it’s death is just another in a line of crippling blows being dealt to this, and so many other true coastal communities across the country. It was a place where the city councilor and the guy who (barely) made a living cleaning fish stood shoulder-to-shoulder sipping their coffee, the newspaper tucked neatly under their arms before departing to lead two very separate lives. It was, in a sense, a community gathering place, a Northwest Floridian piazza.

Whenever I return to Destin, I will be forever saddeneded by the sight of a shuttered Tom Thumb or the jarring first look at whatever will come to replace it. It holds some very specific, and even more general memories and sentiments about the year and a half that I spent in Destin.

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