Above: one of the beautiful trees I encounter in my neighborhood.
Dear readers, it has been nearly two months since my last post. Yes I confess to these sins… Truth be told, my last post was just before my move out of Miami, up to the Northernmost town in Florida, beautiful Fernandina Beach.
This move was predicated by nearly a year of challenges, most of them financial due to the insane cost of living in Miami, but also a general, growing dissatisfaction. When it became clear that we HAD to move, and that to stay in Miami would mean either moving to a much less savory area, we decided to move instead to an area I had always liked, an area with dear friends of mine as well as my kids. I work remotely so I’m not tied to a specific location.
I’m no stranger to North Florida as I have lived in St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach, but what Fernandina Beach has that is unique is a small, tight-knit community with plenty going on in a bike-friendly location. St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach are both small towns but they don’t have a strong community center and are definitely not bike friendly. St. Augustine is a slave to tourists with sightseeing trains and horse drawn carriage rides clogging up the streets. There are things to do but the focus is mostly tourists. Ponte Vedra Beach is basically a suburb of Jacksonville with some high traffic roads and limited beach access. The community is very limited, mostly centered around golf in the country clubs. Jacksonville is vast, a big, diverse city which is more manageable than Miami but shares the woes of any city.
When I moved to Miami I welcomed the multicultural ways that it would be like Santo Domingo, my home of 8 years. But what I didn’t expect is some of the backwardness of third world life, nor the financial struggle to the degree it was. It was at the end of the last summer that it hit me, I felt like I did in Santo Domingo when the financial pressure was so great and moving forward felt like you were climbing out of quick sand.
Last fall I transferred my daughter in to virtual school because I was unsatisfied with the local school. That was a good solution for her but added pressure on me as I tried to guide her through her lessons while working. I no longer had the option to work in an office if she was home. I didn’t like working in offices anyway but it made it that much harder to make ends meet. Month by month we were slipping deeper into debt.
By the time business picked up, it was just enough to keep us from drowning but still not enough to get back on our feet. Then we had our A/C break down, it was heating and cooling at the same time. I keep the house on the hot side so I didn’t notice it until I got the $1200 electric bill. Our home situation was precarious at best because we were on a month to month lease (landlord forgot to renew our lease) and the house was on and off the market. It was just a matter of time and whenever there was a problem, an expensive problem, I knew it could tip the scales against us.
In this case the electric company held us responsible for the bill and therefore I had to recover the cost by deducting it from the rent. Now that I have moved, I still haven’t gotten my security deposit back and probably never will.
But that is all behind us. We are moving up. Life here borders on idyllic. No stress — financial, traffic, people, landlord, kids — even my dog is happier. The kids are all back in local schools which makes life easier on me; work is pouring in; and we are all getting much needed fresh air by biking all around. We live half a mile from the beach and a mile to downtown. So good. Or in the words of a friend of mine “my life is full of joy”.