The Start of Something New: Part 4
The cat meowed next to me, tired of being in the carrying case, tired of riding in the car. The meowing became more and more intense. He threw his body against the door of the crate, clawed at his sheepskin pad, howled at the top of his little cat lungs.
His crate was perched on the passenger seat next to me, seat belted into place. We were three hours into our trip. We had more than 10 hours left.
I was moving all the delicate things in my car. The stone Buddha statues Matt gave me for Valentines day, the gold leaf horse sculpture, the house plants, lights. Kat. Matthew planned to follow in the Prius in two days. The moving van would bring all our stuff on Thanksgiving Day. Matthew would supervise the loading of the truck in Delaware; I was putting the finishing touches on our new house in Palm Harbor, Florida.
The cat settled down, only to pitch a fit every hour, on the hour. When we reached Savannah, GA, the halfway point, it was time to pull into our hotel for the night. I write hotel out of habit. It was a motel. A La Quinta with drive up rooms, your car parked right outside the low slung building. A Denny’s in the parking lot. There’s always a Denny’s in the parking lot. As I write this in Tempe, Arizona, at a Sheraton Hotel, the La Quinta down the street has a Denny’s in the parking lot. If it’s not a Denny’s, it’s an Iron Skillet. Or a Waffle House. Or a Perkins. Never a Starbucks. Here in Arizona it’s a Denny’s. Point proven.
As we approached Savannah, the heavens opened up, and an inky deluge of water created a near impenetrable curtain in front of us. Between the trucks splashing muddy water from their 18 wheels, the curtain of storm, the rolling thunder booming directly overhead — Kat was hysterical. We pulled into the La Quinta, I checked in at the office, grabbed my room, brought Kat inside, and released the beast.
He’d never been in a (m)hotel room. He stalked out of his crate. Sniffed every inch of the room, including the gross place under the double sink, plopped himself on the bed next to mine, back and butt toward me, and fell asleep. He was exhausted from his trip. It takes a lot of energy to be Kat.
The next day dawned brilliant, all traces of rain disappeared. Only a stray puddle hinted at the torrent less than nine hours before. After a Denny’s breakfast (Waffle. Yes, a nice fat waffle. Bacon. Orange juice. Maxwell House Coffee. Tepid. It had sat in the air pot too long) we were on our way.
Late afternoon, and I pulled up in front of the new house. It was a palace. A palace that needed work. The main reason I’d gone ahead of Matthew was to check on the newly installed concrete floors. We’d hired a cut-rate floor guy to rip out all the 1980’s carpet, and replace all 3,000 square feet with polished concrete. Super-modern for the mid-century house. Nervously, I walked up to the double front door, put in my new key, and pushed it open.
The floor was a mess. It looked like he’d run out of the final polish. There was a thick blob over there, not spread out (and now dry) and a big bare spot in the other corner. I knew I had to get this fixed before Matthew arrived in a couple of days: he would melt down. The floor guy’s life was endangered and he didn’t even know it.
I started to slide open the big, double sliding glass doors that emptied out onto the lanai. The door fell off the track, and I nearly lost my grip as it started to fall toward the concrete surrounding the pool.
But none of that mattered. I knew I’d get the floor straightened out. I knew we’d get the door fixed. The house was spectacular. The pool was sparkling. Geckos scurried around everywhere and Kat was in heaven chasing the little lizards. He’d pounce on one, and show off to me, the gecko’s tail sticking out of Kat’s closed mouth. I had to pry open his jaws, free the little tiny dinosaur lizard: they were poisonous to cats. Kat didn’t care. He moved onto his next, unsuspecting wiggly victim.
It’s easy to know you’re on the cusp of something new when you buy a new house; move from Delaware to central Florida and the Gulf Coast. You know life will change when it’s a few days before Thanksgiving, but you’re in shorts and a tank top, seriously considering a dip in the pool.
You think: this is perfect. Why doesn’t everyone live here?
But it’s not perfect. The surface is great. The weather. The beaches. The private island where you take your boat, the aqualine water imitating the Caribbean. Snorkeling. Swimming. Almost year round. The problem is: in Florida I never found my creativity. I never found my niche of people, artists, creators that create just to create. I found the Trump people. I found the people who glared at me at the gym when I wore my gay pride hat. I found the people who stole my Hillary for President sign out of the front yard. I found all those people, because they were everywhere. One of my clients calls it “God’s waiting room.”
“Why did you move there?” She asked. “I just don’t see you in God’s waiting room.” Huh.
I found all those people who retired and put up their feet, but I never found artists. The folks who knit animals to put on signposts out in the park and create a tour for kids. Instead, there was a woman who painted sea shells. Her paintings looked like the artwork hung over the desk at a La Quinta. I never found the photographers who volunteered to shoot families that couldn’t afford a photo shoot just because that photographer wanted to give back and work with diverse people. I never found the pianist who set up his keyboard in the park and started playing. They just weren’t there. They are in Baltimore. All of them.
We spent about six years living in Florida before moving to Baltimore. When Matthew suggested we move to Charm City, I balked. All I could think of was the sun, and the beach, Kat, and the geckos. The boat. The island. But he convinced me to look at the row houses. He promised a rooftop deck. He talked about living in a city, and how he missed the city. The heartbeat of sirens. The people dancing, listening to their headphones, as they wait for the bus. The restaurants that aren’t franchises and don’t serve endless breadsticks with the endless pasta. Urban art. Weird art. Oozing creativity. Diversity.
I thought Florida would be the start of something new. A new life of sun, boat and beach when not working and traveling to green screen photography shoots across the country. It should have been the start of a new passion lived in warmth and wrapped in the briny smell of the Gulf. But it wasn’t. It just wasn’t me. It didn’t fit. It was like that pair of jeans you try on that you should love, but don’t. You look like Senator Romney in those jeans. How is that possible?
It was when we moved back to Baltimore, and the pandemic hit, that I really discovered the start of something new. And, no, it’s not just podcasting. Or talking to artists, activists, and entrepreneurs in this area. It’s a new discovery about myself that has rocked me to my core. It’s like when I discovered green screen photography. Or when I sat in the freezer hot tub, looking at the stars. It will be the start of something new. It will marry the creative with the corporate, just like our photography services. Whether it will take off like our photobooths, I don’t know. We will see. But it is going to be something new. (To be continued…)