A Less Than Auspicious Start

Michael is a whitewater raft guide in the summer. A little over a week ago, just as we were closing in on the final preparations for RV School, he fell backward, head first, off the top of one of the school buses the raft company uses to ferry passengers to and from the river. He lost consciousness for three minutes, and despite protests to the contrary, was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and after some x-rays and a CT scan, was pronounced well enough to go home.

The doctor told him he couldn’t drive or do any work for at least a week, so we decided to rent a tow dolly and haul his car (a Geo Tracker) down here with my truck. I LOVE to drive but I HATE hauling anything, and now I not only have a man who can barely get in and out of the truck on his own, I have three dogs, a truck full of supplies AND a Geo Tracker to worry about, but, you gotta do what you gotta do…

After an overnight stay in Brunswick, GA, we got to Largo at close to 2:00 pm on Saturday. He wanted to go the “scenic route” down Highway 19, which was not only NOT scenic, there were stoplights every two feet. The apartment we rented is pretty basic and not in the best neighborhood, bearing in mind that despite what you may think about what Florida looks like, most of the places I have been all look like they were built thirty five years ago, with a staple gun and some lumber that somebody’s cousin had rotting in the backyard. What is cool about this place, is that the woman we are renting from has lived here all her life. Her brothers live on either side of us, her stepdaughter lives in the front apartment and her parents live right around the corner. So it feels safe and comfortable and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

On Sunday, we went to an RV place called Lazy Days in Seffner, FL because we wanted to look at a toy hauler/RV they had there. This place is 127 ACRES….the repair shop has 276 bays, they have a wood shop on the premises (to build custom cabinets), among other things. They have an exclusive RV park for rigs over $300,000, plus the normal campground for the blue collar crowd. They have three restaurants (all free) and a Starbucks (also free), plus, if your RV needs to be serviced, they have RV’s you can stay in while yours is being fixed.

On Monday, the first day of class, we drove up to the RV Training Center, and wondered what we had just gotten ourselves into. It’s located behind a used car dealership and there isn’t anything fancy about any of it. There are no service bays, the the “shop” is in a fabricated building, the equipment is in a semi truck….and yet….this all seems right. Its not impressive in the least, but fixing RV”s the in field probably won’t be impressive either. Considering that Lazy Days charges $125 an hour for service, and Camping World charges $119 (they pay techs a whopping $18 an hour, so we will be going into business for ourselves PRONTO because independent RV techs make up to $85 an hour)

After six or seven trips to the grocery store to get him set up (it took that many because I have three dogs I can’t leave in the truck for very long in this kind of heat) I’ve finally got him set up and will head back home tomorrow to hold down the fort at home. I will say this about the last few days though. I have spent the last three years wondering what I could have done differently in my life. I’ve questioned my choices, from why I thought a Liberal Arts degree was the way to go, to why I decided to become an artist in the first place. Because I have so many wealthy friends who don’t even seem to know there IS a recession, I’ve felt that MY economic situation was something I brought on myself. It was something I could have avoided had I made “better” choices. After all, I went to college with these people and THEY aren’t struggling from paycheck to paycheck. If they were smart enough to avoid this, why wasn’t I?

This morning, I went for a walk on the beach, bought myself some breakfast at a dive bar in Treasure Island, and let the dogs play at a park near the apartment. I felt this odd combination of intense sorrow and emotional release. I have worked harder in the last three years than I have ever worked in my life. I compromised my soul and turned my back on a talent I think is enviable just to find a way to survive this economy. I forgot what it felt like to be “human”: to take a walk, to have no place in particular to be, to write, when I felt like it, and sleep, if I needed to. I’m not complaining. Most of my life I have been lucky enough to do whatever I wanted to, within reason. I am lucky, even now, because Michael and I set a goal at the beginning of spring, and together we moved heaven and hell to make it happen.

I still don’t know if this is the right thing to be doing. Only time will tell if it is or not. But its good to be on a path again, headed forward, seizing the day….

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