I am not native to Mississippi. I am a transplant. I have been transplanted in my life a number of times, including from the Pine Tree State (Maine) to the Evergreen State (Washington). After a couple of years in Washington I was transplanted to the foreign soil of Okinawa thanks to Uncle Sam and the USAF. In 1991, I was scooped up and transplanted in the high plains of New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment, or Entrapment as many also call it. After 28 years, 2 divorces, 2 children, and a newborn granddaughter, I willingly packed my belongings into a U-Haul and moved 1000 miles away from my dry, desert home to transplant myself into the rich soil of the Magnolia State.

I don’t believe I had ever seen a Magnolia blossom, but I’ll never forget the beauty of the tree, covered in white blooms, that caught my eye as I drove by on the day I arrived. Beauty, sun, humidity, rain – welcome to the gulf coast of Mississippi. What more could I ask for after 28 years in the desert heat?

I spent my first few months getting to know businesses in Bay St. Louis and Waveland, memorizing street names and locations so I wouldn’t have to rely on my GPS – you know, like a native. One day I almost burst into tears when I found myself at the intersection of Daniel St. and Henderson St. I took a picture of the two street signs, one on top of the other, posted it on my Facebook page and tagged my deceased brother’s childhood friend – Daniel Henderson. Then I smiled and felt that maybe this wasn’t going to be a bad move for me after all.

For the past 28 years I had been enjoying the taste of Hatch Green Chili but now I have a passion for fresh Tuna Dip. I have tried a few different versions of charbroiled oysters, seared tuna, and, thanks to Dan Murphy of Dan B’s on my 3rd day in the Bay, fresh boiled crawfish. I look forward to trying more local flavors, attending events, visiting places of interest, and meeting more people.

The decision to be transplanted isn’t always our own – in my case, only the last one was – but the decision to bloom where you are planted needs to come from inside ourselves.

Leslie is the Advertising Specialist for the Sea Coast Echo and can be reached at leslie@seacoastecho.com.

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