Get your mind out of the gutter. This isn’t about the first time I had sex. Heh.
It was the summer of 2001, and I’d just been laid off. It was the first time this had happened to me, and I was crushed. Still, I rallied. Had to. If I didn’t get another job, I’d end up on the street.
Dubya was in the White House, and although he didn’t admit if for a long time, the country had been in a recession for months. Despite going on numerous interviews, I couldn’t get a job. That was another first-time experience for me. Previously, I’d always managed to line up something in short order, but the weeks dragged on, and I got no offers.
I was forty-nine, and not as sleek and pretty as I once was, and I was pretty sure that had something to do with it, as well. Because I was experienced in many areas, I also wanted–deserved–a higher salary than some kid. Under Bush, the tide was already turning, and power that had once belonged to employees was shifting to employers.
It was the perfect storm of unemployment, and I impulsively decided to pack it in and go to Florida. I gave notice to my wonderful landlords, said goodbye to my friends, packed a U-Haul truck with everything I owned, and late one August day, set off on a new adventure. I had about four thousand in the bank, the car on the dolly behind the truck was paid off, and no other debts. I was stoked!
Why Florida? My parents had taken me there on vacation once when I was a kid. I remembered parrots in trees, sunshine, and being able to walk into the ocean for what seemed like miles, with the water getting no higher than my thighs. I thought it might be nice to experience that year ’round, given my increasing hatred of winter in Wisconsin.
My landlords had been afraid for me, driving all that distance by myself, so I lied and told them a friend was going with me. They were old-fashioned. They didn’t think a woman (which is how they perceived me) should travel alone.
I had no such fears. I could do this! I remember how excited and nervous I was the first couple of days, especially as I didn’t know how to back up the rig I was driving, but I always found someplace I could park and pull directly out again. Truck stops were great for that, as were some fast food places. Motel parking was never a problem. Continue reading