Expect the Unexpected
I was supposed to be happy in 2022. That was the plan, at least. But then in January, my coworker, mentor, and best friend left St. Pete suddenly and without warning. I was supposed to stay in the city for another year but then monthly rental costs across the Tampa Bay area began spiking, increasing by double or more in some places.
In March, it became clear that I would no longer be able to afford my rental and would have to move, likely out of the area completely. I also would have to leave my director-level role after four years with an organization I loved.
The change was jarring. I lost twenty-five pounds in four months, stopped running, dating, doing makeup, and going into the office. In 2022, I had planned on everything staying like it was — more long drives over the Skyway with my friend, hunkering down in the closet during tornado warnings, late night walks downtown, long talks about tarot and astrology, the city lights like stars. St. Petersburg was the first place I had ever considered staying long-term.
Instead, I found myself packing and saying goodbye, a month’s worth of dinners and lunches and drinks under the hot Florida sun until my rental was empty, my things stuffed into a wooden U-Box, so far from the plans I made.
When my whole life ended in 2015 (divorce, coming out of the closet), I packed and moved to the Florida Keys. It was a 1,700-mile drive which I did mostly without air conditioning, five miles under the speed limit.
I had this picture of what my life would be like there — palm trees, beaches, boats. Women. I was younger and more hopeful. And while I did get palm trees, beaches, and boats, I also got a broken heart, a drinking problem, and several mental health diagnoses. The bills piled up. Relationships went south.
Recently, I discovered a playlist I made during my first few months in the Keys. When I listened to that playlist again for the first time the other day, it was like going back in time. I could smell the algae from the mangroves, feel the heat of the sun burning through the car windshield. It was a time of so much hope. I was brimming with it.
For a long time, it really felt like I died in the Keys. Like a part of me did not…