For those who know me, Florida wasn’t really some place I thought I’d ever move to. I thought I’d be a New Yorker for all my life, even if I was always a fan of the beach, taking day trips out to Fire Island, Rockaway Beach, or Coney Island, to be able to go to the beach nine months out of the year wasn’t something I considered.
Not too long after the documentary was released, and after a guy that I was seeing and I parted ways, I started talking to this guy who lived out in Florida. His name is Tom. Tom’s originally from New York, but had been a Florida resident for 25+ years. We originally met through mutual friends and started talking online, realizing we had quite a bit in common. For months, Tom and I were on the phone nightly for hours on end. Eventually we started Skyping and he eventually flew up north in December 2015, where we met in person for the very first time. I took him around town and had such a great time we planned on doing it again, this time I would come down to Florida. We went back and forth for a few months and knew this would get serious. Since he has three young children, he couldn’t move up to New York, so we started making plans for me moving down there to be with him. We were setting our sights for this to happen in 2017, so I started sorting through my possessions, since I had a whole lot of living to go through.
In February I found out I would have to move out of my apartment in three months, since my roommate and I were losing out apartment. Now I went from sorting through my stuff casually to packing and selling my stuff voraciously. I was given until the end of May to leave the apartment. In the midst of all of purging, I got a chance to fly down in April and meet his children for the first time. We all got along well and the meeting reinforced Tom’s and my plan for the 2017 move. Tom would fly down at the end of May to help me move into my new apartment and once the year lease was up, I’d move down to be with him. Everything was falling into place until the first week of May when I was told I was being laid off.
I was the last of my co-workers to survive the regime change at my job, and it was clear, once they were all settled, they wanted everyone from the old staff to go. I just happened to be the very last in line. Knowing that I still had to find an apartment, and the fact that I needed to find a job, there was no way I would be able to land an apartment without a full time job, and the task of landing one in such a short period of time wasn’t promising. Without too much fuss or muss, I packed my belongings, prepared them for ship to my then apartment, called a cab and made my way out of the building, all the while my mind was working on overdrive, going through my options.
Once outside, while waiting for the cab to arrive, I called Tom and told him what had happened. I was about to make the suggestion that I move down a year earlier, however, he said it before I did. He had already scheduled time to fly out to help me move, however, it would be to Florida, rather than another tiny apartment in the city. We would rent a one-way U-Haul truck to Florida and use some of the money I had originally saved for the security deposit for the apartment for gas, tolls, and hotel stays on the way down. By this point, I had already packed up the vast majority of my possessions and had already broken down the larger furniture pieces. Talk about timing!
With the time left, I started informing my friends and casino companies I worked with. They weren’t happy about the circumstances but were happy that I was happy and within three weeks I finished packing, breaking down furniture, and meeting up with family and friends for farewells, with a final goodbye party at my favorite karaoke bar the day before the start of the great drive down south.
We were planning on stopping over in Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia on the way down to sleep and stretch, hoping to catch some sights along the way, but we were driving headlong into Hurricane Bonnie and ended up in a four hour standstill, being re-routed away from I-4, since it had completely flooded.
We were able to get to get some walking in when we hit Savannah, after finally getting through the monster traffic jam. We had dinner with pirates, found a firework shop that doubled as a gas station (not the smartest idea), stopped into an “everything peaches” store, and accidentally drove into Klan country before passing by Fort Pedro and it’s giant Mexican hat.
If there’s anything this entire experience has taught me, it’s that, at the end of the day, everything will be alright. It’s going to be a roller coaster of a ride, but you’re still going to end up back in the station, safe, and in one piece, once it’s all said and done. No point getting scared, no point getting frustrated. Just know that the path is set up for your benefit and all you have to do is just follow it. I realize that’s better in theory and harder to achieve in practice, but if you ever look at all the other stuff you’d freak out about and see where it took you, you’d realize it was an adventure and you are all the better for it. I posted the image on the right three days before my move down to Florida and it’s as true then as it is now.
This was just a chapter in that ride. I’m looking forward to where it’ll take me next.