'When I moved to the coast I wasn’t broken, but I was not yet complete. When people ask me what brought me to the coast, my answer takes many people by surprise: a list of what I wanted my life to look like, a google search and a prayer. Now sure, it took much more than that and I look forward to sharing my journey from before my move to the coast and beyond in my memoir I will publish next year.
I arrived ready and eager to live in new skin. I left the comfort of everything I knew to seek what was possible. I never could have expected these last five years to evolve and become the anchoring of my soul, the embodiment of my faith and the place I will forever call home. Who would have thought this would be my life? Certainly not me! How could anyone foresee this girl from Redondo Beach (CA) by way of Omaha and Seattle landing in Cannon Beach?
I’ll never forget meeting Watt Childress just twenty-four hours after arriving into town. Almost regretful of my decision to move to unknown and unfamiliar territory I walked into Jupiter’s Bookstore and encountered what was the first of many serendipitous moments that assured me I was indeed where I was supposed to be. After spending four months working as a conference assistant at the Cannon Beach Conference Center, I jumped into the sea of life with only my faith as my life jacket.
Shortly after I moved to Wheeler someone asked me what I was running from. My answer was easy: for the first time in my life, I wasn’t running from anything. This was remarkable as my therapist had once nicknamed me 'Forest Gump' for the way I was always running away from life. This time was different, however, because I was different. I was running TO life. My only desired goal was finding purpose for my life. Sounds simple enough, right? Ha!
With no set agenda I began sharing my heart with almost anyone I met. Fried chicken and cornbread, red beans and rice and collard greens. Coastal Soul was born. I wanted to honor the message of love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had inspired so many to live in. The Love Coalition was born. I wanted to share life with those around me. LaNicia was born. I had resolved to be happy by myself, with myself and within myself. The best relationship of my life was born. I never imagined I’d leave the coast a married woman. I am now a wife!!! I continue to learn how to live in this new skin.
My journey could not have been scripted but it’s the one I couldn’t imagine my life being any other way. I lost my footing along the way but as they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I leave here better than I arrived. I no longer live in fear or worry about how things may or may not work out or what people think about me. Thank you for allowing me to grow in your midst. Thank you for encouraging me to continue being my authentic self. Thank you for being my strength and my conviction. Thank you for supporting my dreams even when they weren’t fully realized. Most importantly, thank you for loving me even though we didn’t always agree.
I am excited to share the culmination of every experience of my last five years with you today. On June 14, 2019 I married my best friend, John Duke. A boy from Wheeler, Oregon and a girl from Redondo Beach, California. We defy every preconceived notion of what love is supposed to look like. He took one look at me and the greatest love of all was born. Next week John and I will embark on our new life together in Ogden, Utah. We look forward to visits home when we can but most importantly, we look forward to being together wherever the road will lead us.
I leave the coast a changed woman because of you!! Thank you for being apart of our love story.
Mrs. LaNicia Deanne Duke