So, almost a year after I moved back up to Kentucky, we’ve started house hunting. It’s been an interesting endeavor… rental homes fall into three categories, the two biggest of which are either the ones that are too crappy to want to spend any time in, or the ones that are so nice that they are WAY over budget. The third category, the one that, as Goldilocks says, is “juuuuuuuuuuust right,” in that they are not too expensive and not so run down that you wonder if there’s a meth lab hidden in the attic, are hard to find.
We finally found one that we both liked, that meets all of our requirements (three bedrooms, garage, kitchen with new appliances and, particularly, a dishwasher). It’s also a closer commute for me, which was a very high value, as I am sick of driving an hour each way. So I’m going to put an application down on it tomorrow. Hopefully we get it… because that’s the other thing about looking for a rental house… everyone else is trying to get into those too, and they are few and far between. So you lose more than you get.
I am looking forward to setting up a home again, to getting my things out of storage, to having a room where I can burn my incense and candles and oils and play with my tarot decks and do the things I used to do in Florida – I can’t do that in the apartment we live in now, because there’s not enough room to make a sacred space. Ritual spaces would have to be taken down every time we needed to have a meal, people walk in and out a lot.
Beyond that, though, I am hoping that this place, this house, whatever we find, will help me with an even bigger problem that I have had for quite some time now… I am homesick. So homesick, in fact, that I can’t even properly tell you how homesick I am. It’s a new feeling for me because at no other time in my life have I ever felt this way. Like, I grew up in Kentucky, I moved to Florida, and sure, here and there, I’d miss my family and my friends, but it was not an all-encompassing feeling the way that it is for Florida. I always used to make a point never to put roots down anywhere… to stay flexible, malleable, able to do what I needed to do at a moment’s notice. I fucked up and put some down accidentally, I guess. Oops.
I miss my apartment and my things, of course, and it is my hope that this new house, when we get it, will alleviate that some. Because then I will be able to see those things every day and feel more at home. Or at least my cookware, appliances, books, etc. will be more accessible than they are now.
But it’s more than missing my shit. I miss who I WAS there. And I am afraid – not only that I may never live in Florida again, but also that I will never be THAT WOMAN again. The woman who had her life together, who knew who she was, and what she wanted. It’s not that I’ve changed THAT MUCH since I moved, but I’ve come to appreciate what I had there (the old adage of “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is true, folks).
Someone I knew at one point described Tampa as “terribly miserable (yet frustratingly seductive).” I thought it was funny at the time, but now that I’ve been away from it, I’ve realized the truth in that statement. It’s not that I was miserable there, per se, though the traffic was pretty terrible and Bucs games could pose a challenge to getting around. And, of course, there was the work issues (though to be fair I might have been okay if I’d just grown a pair and found a completely different job).
But Tampa was, and is, unique.
I lived in a place that was pretty much a mixing bowl of every state, every culture, you could think of. It was where everyone went for vacation, sure, but even the “locals” were from somewhere else most of the time. I lived in a place where I could not only practice my “religion” (I use that term lightly as I do not put a name on it and I do not subscribe to any one faith) without fear of repercussion, and not only that, but I could spend my weekends with others LIKE ME.
My friends were from all over. Many white, but just as many Hispanic or African American. I was, in many places and in many situations, the minority there. And I LIKED IT. Here? It’s funny. I was talking about how much I missed the diversity to a woman I’d known all my life and her response was, “Well, you know, we’re getting a lot more Hispanics here now with the migrant workers.” I was horrified… my friends there were not migrant workers. They weren’t anywhere CLOSE to migrant workers. They were smart, funny, intelligent people who were working in IT, or management, or the military. They had families, they lived in nicer areas of town, they weren’t struggling.
I’m not saying that everyone in Kentucky thinks like that woman did, but her overall attitude that “this is what they are and this is why they’re here and this is how they’ll stay” is unacceptable to me. It sickens me. I wish that I’d never heard that statement, to be honest, because it’s something that will stay with me, more than likely, for the rest of my life. And I’m not even saying that there’s no racism in Florida (we do have George Zimmerman, for example). But it’s not as common there. I’m sure there are undertones of it that I simply didn’t see. But it’s not as bad as it is here, where cities need to have banquets to celebrate their diversity (if you need to draw attention to how diverse you are, people, in reality you probably aren’t). Or where Kim Davis can refuse to sign marriage licenses and have people support her for doing it. Florida may be a red state, but its attitudes are, largely, very blue.
Tampa made me shed a lot of the things I was once comfortable with… and in their place, it forced me to develop a lot of new attitudes, beliefs, hobbies, and tastes (in food, clothing, you name it). I miss it every single fucking day. I can’t even tell you how often my mind takes me back there so that I can visit. Sometimes this is, literally, the only way that I can fall asleep. Sometimes, my dreams of the place are so vivid that I don’t want to wake up. In my world, we call that Astral Travel, and it was something I could never do there. But here? I have no problems. And sometimes I go to the most ridiculous places… the Michael’s parking lot, the Publix where I used to get my groceries. Sometimes I’ll go to more common places – Ballast Point, for example, or the lake behind my apartment that I used to do miles around every night.
But, of course, for all that I want to go home right now, I can’t. The debt, from this move, is up to my eyeballs, and I need to pay it off before I can think about going anywhere. I have school to finish. I need to at least develop the training program where I am working now to the extent that it can run itself if and when I do decide to relocate. And of course there is Ormsby. Who I desperately want to take with me, but who, I concede, may not ever want to go at all. That is, of course, the biggest thing that keeps me here, debt be damned.
I’ve planned a trip in February. And Ormsby will come with me… and I’ll show him the places I loved most of all. Maybe we’ll see a rainbow. Or the elusive lighting/rainbow combination (though probably not, since that’s not the right season for that). And, whether he goes with me or decides to spend more time on the beach, I’ll see my friends. And I’ll smoke a hookah and have some rum runners. I may not want to come back once I’m there (I mean who would WANT to come back to the cold when you can wear flip flops in February), but at least, for a few days, I’ll be in the place where I put down more roots than I ever intended.
** And, of course, any of my Tampa contacts should email me at their earliest convenience so we can make plans. **