New, Yet Familiar Horizons

June 11, 2021

Leaving Florida

When this year began, I set aside four simple anchors as a guide amongst the meanderings of the day-to-day. Three of those (reading, writing, and drawing more) are rooted in activities of daily practice, so their chance for success is already pretty high. The fourth, however, is something that requires far more attention, planning, stress, and cost: closing the book on my time in Florida and moving back to Pennsylvania.

We’re now in the home stretch of the process, though I suspect some pitfalls still await. Many of my colleagues have relocated in the last year and I can’t fathom how they maintained their reticence while in the middle of all this. One day they simply appeared in a different room on the Zoom calls and I came to find out in passing that “Oh, yeah, I moved to Texas” or some such coyness. Maybe it’s because I’ve only moved a handful of times in my life, or that this move is a particularly sweeping change in scenery, culture, and climate, but I can scarcely imagine omitting anything about this adventure, let alone keeping it a total secret like they seemed to do.

I came to Florida from Philadelphia in 2005 to kickstart my design career. A friend of mine settled in Orlando two years prior and he offered me a job as a designer if I was willing to move. Having spent my first post-college year selling running shoes while trying to find anything resembling a job in the arts, I didn’t hesitate. I intended to spend a few years getting my feet wet before moving back to the Northeast, this time to New York. Circumstances changed, as they tend to do, and sixteen years later I’m finally departing.

Why do this? Why disrupt an entire family’s routine? Why take a bold stand against the forces of inertia? Well…

Nature

Florida be hot. Can’t stay outside from May to Oct. Sad face.

Florida be flat. Can’t go up no mountains. Sad face.

Florida be samey. Drive hours in any direction. Still Florida. Sad face.

Seasons

The sense of renewal and excitement associated with seasons changing is one of the things I missed the most about leaving the northeast.

Culture

The ability to access a larger variety of activities, people, sporting events, ways of living. A four-hour drive from the new house can land us in no fewer than 8 states. Four hours from the old house got us into Georgia. Peaches are ok, but I’d like to see other fruits.

Sports

Sports are good. Hard to play sports in 99º heat at 99% humidity. Especially if that sport is pond hockey.

Change

…is good. That’s why people love to travel. I do not love to travel, but I always feel great after I do. Exposing the kids to a big life change like this will also assuage some of the fear of the unknown, which they will be able to apply in other contexts.

Friends & Family

I have loved ones I haven’t seen much in the last decade and a half. Reconnecting is nice.

We’re up against all the things one would associate with uprooting. New schools, new doctors, new roads. I gotta buy a snow shovel. I’m back to paying state tax. I have to get my car inspected. Driving 16 hours with the cat in the back seat is going to be…interesting.

Worth mentioning as well is that I didn’t anticipate how difficult it is to continue my daily routine when my mind is 95% consumed by thoughts about the move. I’ve been able to continue waking up early, walking, and reading, but my art and writing have completely stopped. I very quickly came to terms with this since it was an obvious probability, but I read something Jessica Hische wrote recently that helped buttress my feelings about it:

The key as a parent is just making sure your creative pilot light never goes out. The system is running on “energy save” for a while. There will be a time when you can crank it again and it’s easier to turn it up if it’s not entirely extinguished.

In this example, she’s referring to the frequent madness of parenting, but I think the same concept applies to anything urgent yet temporary.

But despite everything, and all the hassle of decluttering, packing, moving, unpacking, decluttering more, and getting settled in an unfamiliar place, I’m so glad we decided to do this and I can barely contain my excitement.