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first florida sunrise

I lived in Florida for a few years in my mid-twenties in a town called Bonita Springs, between Naples and Fort Myers, just south of Sanibel. It’s where I started my first business in 1989, hoping to create something like the web. It’s where I first faced the business world as an adult, where I took my first “slings and arrows”, where I did a lot of growing up.

After I left Florida for Pennsylvania, my parents moved to Bonita permanently. I went back to visit at least once a year for the next eleven years. A lot of life happened in that little town: holidays and hospitals, sunsets and sadness, friends and funerals. Both of my parents died there. Just before the ISWC conference, my wife and I said goodbye to my parents’ house for the last time. The trip was essentially my goodbye to southwest Florida, which had been the one constant in my life since I first stayed for a week at the Naples Ritz-Carlton in 1987.

After the conference, on the plane ride home, I wrote the following journal entry, which may help explain why Sanibel wasn’t just another conference for me, why I keep bringing it up in this blog:

October 24th, 2003

This morning, just before seven, I walked out in darkness to the Sanibel beach. The sky behind Bonita was just beginning to redden. A thin bottom arc of moon cupped a hairline penumbra. The gulf echoed its quite rhythms as I walked down the beach, with an “infinite expectation of the dawn.”

It was the last morning of the five day Semantic Web conference, with so many ideas and hopes and connections. It was the last morning of my two-week trip to Florida, during which Paula and I said goodbye to Riverwalk and discovered Sanibel. It was the last morning of my fourteen years in southwest florida, my home away from home, the source of so much change in me, the catalyst of possibilities.

Watching the sky and the sea unfold in new light, seeing my first Florida sunrise on my last Florida morning, seeing the Ritz in the distance, imagining the Bonita Bay beach, I realized :-

It was the last morning of my twenty-two years of rehearsal, that now after so much hope and hype and heartache, my preparations were complete.

In the fall of 1981, I first discovered CompuServe, I first logged onto a BBS, I first connected thru computer to the world outside my window.

This morning, this sunrise, was a beginning not an ending. From here forward, I realize the dream.

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