In a previous post, I told the hard story of what happened to reduce and even my ability to post. But, don’t worry, I’m not re-hashing it here. I’ll just say that things are slowly getting better. And, while slowly getting better, I have to start making longer-term plans than just, “fill the fridge” or “clean the bathroom.”
It’s become this slow balance between looking backward and looking ahead, all the while paying attention to right here, right now. It’s about finding out how to be an adult while not losing the wonder that childhood is, that adventure that being a teenager is.
To see how much things are getting better, I planned a vacation to Florida. Mostly to get away from things, but also just for the challenge. I did the comparison shopping for flights, purchased the tickets, worked out the plans and logistics, and I went. I had help from a good friend with the cat-watching, but otherwise I did it. Every other trip I’ve ever taken has been arranged by someone else, and the fact that I planned it, I went on it, and now I’m back makes me feel a bit more adult.
While in Florida, I stayed with my brother. Well, I stayed at the house where he’s renting a room, but that’s a technicality that works in later.
We had loose plans to go to Harry Potter world, and we wanted to go around and explore different restaurants as the desire took us, maybe see some of the other towns and parts of the city, even a tentative road trip possibility, but nothing concrete.
I cooked food (a white turkey chili and an irish lamb stew), we feasted on that food, we explored and were lazy and we talked about things. I got to experience my first real Florida summer, (90°F with 85% humidity isn’t that bad, surprisingly,) and I got to talk to lotsa people in an area that the Internet community thinks is full of nothing but stupidity and gators, and I was pleasantly surprised.
Florida has it’s share of stupid people, but no more than anywhere else. It just gets more coverage on the Internet because it’s one of the most popular vacation spots on the planet. So, everyone and their uncle whips out there smartphone and uploads pictures of it to Snapchat and Facebook and rails about it.
But there are real people there, and they’re concerned about the hate being shoveled into our brains. There are people that do not care for the cowardice that is strutting around behind fear-mongering and hate-speech that the Presidential Race 2016 ticker banner scrolling at the bottom of television screens tries to obscure.
And these real people are just as worried that the ultimate fear-mongering I’m-not-a-fascist fascist might actually get elected. They also saw the brexit thing, and realized that stupidity can win the day.
Some of these people agreed with initial messages, because they saw their jobs being taken away from themselves and brown people being hired instead. But these are people that work doing janitorial services, yard- and lawn-care services, and generally the lower-tier jobs. To them, the concept of losing your job to immigrants seems a reality that an office worker in a skyscraper just shrugs off as being ridiculous.
But then he continued to double-down on his message. The talk about the disabled being a drain made many people nervous – in a state that has a number of old retired people, you cannot talk about cutting health benefits for the disabled without making many wonder if that means they would lose their jobs, or their benefits.
He continued to up the ante, as if the presidential race was a session at a gambling table.
His talk about illegal immigrants in the face of all those models being imported made others wonder. And the fact that several former presidents of, and the current president of Mexico, all answered, “No way,” to whether or not they would pay for, all or part, of a Mexican-American wall while he continues to insist that they would pay for it makes others think he wants a war.
And they started to doubt, more and more and more, and they started to drift away. And he kept running his mouth. And that’s about when they stopped drifting away, and started opposing him.
I don’t put these things in this blog to remove people of the rightful fear that the I’m-not-fascist fascist might actually become president (brexit did happen), but to give hope that there are people all over that think he is the most hate-filled person out there, and they need to vote.
I also got my hair cut:
Yeah, for the first time in twenty-three years, I don’t have a ponytail of some sort. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’ve had my hair that short in the back of my head since I was around twelve or even ten.
Some people worried I suffered some mental break, or I’m having a crisis. My mother, the biggest proponent of me getting a short hair cut, asked me six or seven times why I did it.
My long hair and ponytail finally reached the end of practicality, and I still have a streak of pure mischievousness about a mile wide.
This summer has been record-heat, and I’ve been thinking critically of the ponytail every day that got up to 100°F/80% humidity in the past few months. I would walk to and from the train on my way to work, and sweat was getting caked into the ponytail. I was washing my hair twice a day on some of the hotter days. In the lead-up to the vacation, it seemed like a full week of those days.
So, when the sister of my brother’s roommate said she was going to barber’s school, and that they do lab haircuts and get credit for those haircuts, I started thinking. When she turned to me and said, “Dude, you need to let me cut your hair. I’ll do it so good,” my only response was, “Yeah, sure.” I did have to reassure her three times that I really wanted to cut my hair that evening, and two more times at the barber’s chair.
Part of finding adulthood. Now I just gotta figure out how much shampoo is too much (what I’ve been using every time since the cut,) and get used to how easily and quickly my head moves. I also have to figure out how my hair parts. I am really enjoying the fact that my hair dries in less than three hours.
A final part of the trip made me question where and how I live.
The area of Florida there has experienced a boom. When they initially moved from Minnesota to Florida in 1995, it was very rural. There were highways leading all over, but it was not on the beaten track. You could cut over to the turnpike to travel longer distances rather quickly, but the lights of houses were scattered into little clusters along a few streets.
Now you can drive for hours and never lose sight of a house. They’ve expended past the Kmart, and gotten a Walmart and a Super Target. They have car dealerships and strip malls and high-end shopping – but it’s all spread out like the outer suburbs.
In short, you have to have a car. You have to drive miles and miles every day to live life.
I like my life where I don’t have a car. I like being able to walk to where I want to go, and I have choices in each place that I walk to. If I want to venture a little further, I can walk to the train or to a bus stop.
Out there, it’s all driving. They just got one bus route very recently, and that goes into Orlando every half hour. If you don’t have a car, you might possibly starve.
Oh, yes, people help each other down there just like they do, here. But no one wants to rely on other people for daily needs, or even hourly needs. It’s not pride, it’s practicality – if I want to go shopping for a spur-of-the-moment recipe I just found, I want to put on a backpack with my freezer bags inside, take a nice short walk and pick up those ingredients. If I think, “A bottle of wine would be nice tonight,” I don’t want to have to drive for it.
I want to live on a daily schedule as much as possible, (despite my constant planning,) not a weekly or monthly schedule. I want to plan some things, but not every thing.
I don’t want to own a car payment and insurance payments and additional rent for a parking spot, as well as regular expenses to refill the gas tank and periodically have maintenance done.
So, I’m looking at how I’m living now. How much I still need to plan out, and how much I can just stop stressing over. And how to get back into my creativity.
This trip was wonderful. This trip was enlightening. This trip was exactly what I needed.
So, here’s to a blog post that is long overdue. Thanks, readers. Skåll!