This month marks the tenth anniversary of my move to Florida.
When I first moved down here in 2000 with Ashleigh and Amanda, I told my family that it was not a permanent move. I was going to finish college and return. I didn’t want Ashleigh growing up without my family around and I certainly knew that I was not going to like living in Florida long term- I’m a small town, north-eastern girl at heart and besides, Florida is just too damn hot!
But a strange thing happened. My mom and my sister followed me down. And on the one hand it was good. It was nice to have family around when I was in a pitch. They offered a solid rock I could ground myself to in a jam. But on the other hand, I felt almost obligated to stay. They followed me down here, I thought, and that’s not nothing. So I stayed too.
I took a full-time, permanent job teaching 8th grade. I sunk roots into a house that I thought would be a home. I tried to be a member of a community. I became a Girl Scout leader.
But five years later, the job is still just a job. I’m certainly not passionate about it and it is not something that I see myself doing for the rest of my life. I can teach. I’ve no problem with that. But I’m apathetic about it. I’ve never really cared about it. For me, it’s a paycheck. And if it were any other job I don’t think it would matter as much. But as a teacher? I should be passionate and excited about it. That’s the kind of teacher kids need.
The house is still just a house – one that I wish I could get rid of as it is taking everything we have to keep us afloat. Caught in that stupid bubble, I now have a house worth 60K less than what we purchased it for, so there is not hope of selling it right now. Plus, it takes my entire salary to pay for it, so we have no extra money for anything. Honestly, if I hadn’t been raised with the morals I was, I would have already walked away from it.
I’ve learned, not without some help, that a home isn’t a place. You can’t put “home” on a map. The family is what makes wherever you are a home, be that a mansion, an apartment, an RV, or a cardboard box. It’s the “who” that counts, not the where or what.
I think what it comes down to really is this: A decade is a long time to be in one place. I’ve got this itchiness in my feet. This feeling that I have overstayed my welcome in Florida. What was meant to be a three or four year stint tops, has stretched into this, long inescapable road with no exits. Well, I will not be corralled into a future that isn’t where I want to be. And if I can’t find an exit, well, I guess it is time for me to forge one myself.
And so as Tom Petty sang, “Under my feet, baby, the grass is growing, yeah, its time to move on, time to get going.”