Everyday an Adventure

I am a planner.

I wasn’t always this way, but life in Charlotte taught me that if you don’t fill out your social schedule, you’ll sit home alone on any day that ends in -y. So, I learned to make plans. At my most frantic, there was a two month waiting period.

(I was informed by two different men that my social schedule was far too daunting and there was no way they could keep up. I explained that they needed to stop being pussies. But that’s a different story for a different time.)

Point is, everything was hyper-planned. Until now.

When you don’t have a full network of people, the only thing you’re able to plan is a trip to the grocery store. And that’s about as fun as rolling naked in a briar patch.

So, I attempt to open myself to the possibilities – and embrace the unexpected.

Like, for example, coconuts in the road.

Yes. Coconuts. Rolling in the street. If one thought on it long enough, there could be an a-ha moment of sorts that, of course, palm trees are everywhere – so, a dropped coconut might, in fact, roll on down the road. (As do fallen palm fronds, which cause all manner of havoc because they’re truly not as light and airy as they look from the comfort of your chaise.)

There are also turtles and armadillos. Shelled and ready for shenanigans, these crazy creatures engage in a real-life Frogger that’s not for the faint of heart; leaving pacifists like me weighing the pros and cons of following suit to help them avoid a Game Over.

And, of course, there are the surprise people.

Bad surprise: catching the unloading of a dead body as I returned from a walk. (My real friends are rolling right now, because they know I don’t do dead.)  I blanched, broke out in a cold sweat and sprinted home.

Good surprise: My new friends from the Dominican Republic who speak much better English than I do Spanish – as you might expect from someone who studied French.

But my favorite surprise person popped up on one of my least favorite days.

My parents came to visit and we went to look for a new apartment in a different part of town. (Apartment hunting is my version of hell and I dreaded it from the moment I knew it was time to go.)

The week prior to their arrival, my phone bit the dust and sent me into a spinout of epic proportions. (Just so you know, everything seems far more unmanageable when you’re homesick, confused and in a brand new state. Because, yes, it was JUST a cell phone. Shut up.)

Fast forward to Saturday, new phone in hand. We saw a cute apartment and walked the neighborhood where we found another For Rent sign with a number. After breakfast at a local diner, I stepped outside with said brand new phone to call the realtor when I looked down with shock and horror as my new phone dialed my ex.

Time stopped.




I couldn’t process what was happening. How the hell??? Out of all the names in my contact list, how did that fucking thing dial him?!?!?

And, just in time, my brain managed make my finger hit END.

Heart pounding, I text my Best. I’m going to call you and hang up, don’t answer. Then you tell me if my number shows on your missed calls list.

At the same moment we’re lamenting my mistake, a car pulls over. A man jumps out, hands me a rose, gets down on his knee and sings, “You are so beautiful to me . . . “

Wait, what? Is this happening?

First reaction – how fun and sweet!

Second reaction – where is the hidden camera???

Third reaction – this has gone on way too long and it’s getting creepy.

Which he might’ve heard, because he hopped up, hugged me, thanked me for being amazing, got in his car and drove away.

How strange . . .

and lovely . . .

and absolutely unexpected . . .

and completely memorable!!!

Wonderful things can happen when we put ourselves out into the world and release the focus on our screens . . . when we let go of schedules and open to the possibilities.

Some might say when we learn to expect the unexpected. But, I’m not there yet. I mean, I’m still trying to be okay with not having definitive plans for the next two months.

However, I am happy to loosen my grip just a little and let every single day be its own adventure.

The Apocalypse Doesn’t Last Forever

Tammy’s words rolled in my head as I faced my first solo Friday in Florida. I said goodnight to my workmates, her voice chanting, “You can’t stay home. You have to go out. Even if you don’t feel like it! Sit at a bar solo, don’t look at your phone, talk to people, make friends!!!”

So, I made a plan with myself. I was going out.

“Self, we’re stopping by the grocery store, unloading at the apartment, then walking to a bar and having drinks and dinner with who knows who!”

I was psyched. (Let me not lie, I was not psyched. But, I was ready.)

Except . . .weather.

On my way to Publix I talked to one of my most favs – who hates storms as much as I do. “Byg, the sky is black on the horizon. No, no . . . black BLACK, like for real, jet black. Like, I’ll call you if/when I get home.”

Commence with a lightening round of errands. Lightening errands is the only kind of lightening I can tolerate because, THANKS  TO DOROTHY, I have an intense aversion of storms.

As promised, I did a storm-survival check-in when I returned home. “OMG, the sky just opened up.”

This is before I knew that my cellular service sucks inside my apartment . . . before I knew about the intensity and severity of Florida weather . . . before the storm of the century.

“Girl, I’m trying to like it, but . . . and WHY are the palm trees sideways?!?!?”

In North Carolina, we have some intense storms, but they come with plenty of warning so you can locate your thunder buddy and be okay!

So, Byg, in true bestie fashion held the phone singing, “Fuck you, Thunder, you can suck my dick.”

I started mentally packing my shit to go back home. “Okay . . . the shoe suitcase, the swimwear box, folding clothes go in space bags, hanging clothes on hangers and . . . OH DEAR LORT, WHAT?!?!?”

Hail the size of golf balls POUNDED the roof of my tiny cottage and rolled in the street.

Silence on the phone.

“Hello? Hellooooooooooooo? Hello??????”

Cell signal, gone.

Power, off.

Storm, ON.

Fuck me runnin’.

Tomorrow, I’mma pack my shit and go home. This is straight up bullshit!!! Oh HAIL NAW.”

And then, time happened.

As quickly as the black sky loomed, the clouds moved out and dazzling sun reappeared.

I walked to the mailbox, umbrella at the ready, and chatted with the neighbors who reassured me that the magnitude of the storm was unusual.

The power came back quickly, too. I cranked the AC on and called Bygie, “It finally passed, the power is back on, I think everything is okay.”

“Thank God, I was so worried you weren’t okay!!!”

“No, no . . . I’m okay. It seems that apocalypse DOESN’T REALLY last all day.”

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Since then, we’ve had several bad storms. And I can’t say that I’m friends with thunder and lightning yet. But, I am learning to breathe into the storm’s fury and let it pass, because the sun always shines again.


The Tortoise Wins Again

People typically stereotype the South with sleepy little towns, Maw & Paw, sweet tea and drawls. Sure, there are stereotypes for a reason and those places do exist.

It’s just that Charlotte isn’t one of those places. And I’m not one of those people. (Well, okay, I have the drawl.)

I want things now, Now, NOW, dammit! When the light turns green, I drive like I mean it. North Carolina IS the home of Nascar, after all.

Back home, waiters and waitresses want to turn tables, so we’re greeted with water and back to the office in less than an hour.

And, on occasion, a trip to the grocery more closely resembles an old episode of Supermarket Sweep (or an MMA cage match, depending on the holiday).

Point is, I was surprised – strike that, gobsmacked – to move to Florida and go slow. Not just slow . . . slllllooooooooooooooooooooooowwwww.

The speed limit is slow.

The people crossing the street are slow.

Chick-Fil-A is slow. (And, by the way, they don’t even say, “Thank you,” much less, “Our pleasure to serve you at the window.” Side eyes.)

Regular restaurant service is slow.

Even the wind is slow.

Is it the heat? Does the sun melt everyone into a syrupy stupor this close to the equator . . . arms and legs dripping and heavy with humidity, making it impossible to move with the quickness?

Or . . .

Is it me?

Moving to a new town shines an interrogation light on your personal attributes in a much brighter way than travel ever does.

I look around and don’t see other people yelling, “Oh for fuck’s sake, go!!!” (Maybe I’m just missing them???)

I also don’t see other people obsessing about schedules. It seems there’s just an, “I’ll get to it when I get to it,” attitude. And that might not be so bad.

Is it a small town thing? A beach town thing? A retiree thing?

Their faces are relaxed and body language easy. No one seems to be in any particular hurry to get anywhere. Where they are is just fine. And, upon consideration, that really doesn’t seem so bad.

Is it contagious?

Will I catch some of it if I start licking people’s faces? (Is that bad manners???)

The collective THEY say that we must be present in the present to truly experience joy and embrace happiness. That said, I should (perhaps) take a page from the Tortoise and retire my inner Hare.

Maybe I need to stop worrying about where I’m going and at what pace I’m getting there. Maybe I should learn to slow down and enjoy my current station.

Maybe I should park my car, buy a bike and some flip flops . . . and let life unfold gently.

One thing’s for sure, this move is changing me. I believe it’s for anything other than better. Otherwise, that would be a waste of time. (wink)

Even so . . . I want my nuggets now, Now, NOW, dammit!

Everybody’s an Asshole

I moved to Florida from North Carolina 6 weeks ago and, I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a challenge. I have to use GPS to find the grocery store . . . there’s always a weird film on my windshield . . . possums, alligators, tiny ants and no-see-ums. (Dear LORD, where did those things come from, because I’m fairly certain they could only be of the devil.)

Perhaps the most shocking revelation is other people’s reaction to finding out where I’m from.

Pleasantries are exchanged; my accent noted. “Where are you from? I hear a little Southern accent.” (A little? Like the Atlantic’s a LITTLE wet?)

“I just moved down from Charlotte, North Carolina,” I say with a smile.

My arm is grabbed, Momma-style. Eyes widen.

“OMG . . . be careful. Everybody here is an asshole.”

Now, just what the hot hell am I supposed to say to something like that?!?!? “Thank you soooooo much for your warning. I will promptly go home and lock the doors and stop trying to make friends and build a network in my new zip code.” What the what???

“It’s a cowboy state,” they say. “Don’t leave anything visible in your car. Always lock every door. Don’t talk to strangers. And DEFINITELY don’t collect any free puppies from the van.”

I only kid (a little) about that last one.

Perhaps I’m aggressive in my assessment. It isn’t EVERY Floridian I meet who says horrible things about their state & neighbors.

In my short time, I’ve met a number extraordinarily friendly, emotionally open and very inclusive people. These are the folks who have said, “Let me introduce you to some friends. Would you like to join us for dinner? Want to go to the beach? I’ll ask if any apartments are available.”

These are the people who get my number and actually call or text. These are the people who check in on my settling in. These are the people who are happy to share a little of their love and light with the new girl.

These people are the keepers.

And, when I think about it, I’m truly grateful the non-keepers make it readily apparent who they are by presenting negativity at every turn. I’m glad for the obvious visual assessment and categorization, the words of “warning” and offers to screen people so I know if they’re “socially acceptable to know” or not. (Not even exaggerating or making that up.)

These people are not my tribe.

I let them pass freely and send them a little light and love for their journey, so as to keep plenty of space open for those who do bring the bright and shiny into my life.

So, the next time someone says, “Brace yourself, everyone’s an asshole,” I’ll have to bite my tongue. Because I’ll be thinking, “Maybe that’s just what YOU bring to the table.”