I’m originally from a manatee-infested backwater on the West Central Florida coast. As a child, almost as soon as I perceived (from TV and books) there were other places, I plotted my escape from that region. I did escape, at least for a while, first to nearby Gainesville, FL for school, then to Boston for a few years, but I came back to Florida, settling in the Tampa Bay area.
My husband has always wanted to live out in the country, and after our kiddo grew up and left home a couple of years ago, he pressed that case. If it were strictly up to me, I’d stay within easy driving distance of an urban core for the convenience of it. But where we live has always been more important to the mister than it is to me, so I’ve let him drive those decisions for the last 25 years. And he really wanted to move.
Still, we argued a bit about it. I said I liked being near cultural opportunities. He (rightly) pointed out that we rarely avail ourselves of them. I expressed a desire to be near good restaurants, pubs and movie theaters. He said we hardly ever go out and tend to wait for movies to come to our streaming service. I said I hate change. He said that’s a recipe for being stuck in a life-long rut. Etc. To sum up, I was persuaded.
My one condition was that a prospective house had to have broadband service — a reasonable request since I work from home and am addicted to several Netflix programs. And indeed, that proviso did stymie the mister for many months. But he finally found a place that is both at the ends of the fucking earth and Wifi’d up. It also happens to be the county where I spent my childhood before my mom divorced my dad and fled to Tampa. The irony!
So, we moved. Now I have to drive 1.5 miles on a treacherous dirt road bordered by a swamp and forested Confederate redoubts (where treason flags and a Trump sign or two are proudly displayed) to get to a hardtop road, then an additional 15 miles to (a small) town for supplies. That kinda sucks. But here is the view from our dock:
It is also the view from everywhere in the house except the back bedrooms — there are floor-to-ceiling windows across the river-facing side of the house and a screened porch where you can sit and watch the egrets and herons fly past and listen to the limpkins scream at each other.
It’s just breathtakingly serene and unspoiled. Every now and then a giant airboat full of tourists drawn from I-75 for a “swamp adventure” comes blasting through, but aside from that, it’s incredibly quiet.
This is a stilt house, and the downstairs is enclosed and has a pool table and dartboard that came with the place. There’s a screened-in patio area where we plan to build a new outdoor bar. The previous owners said the downstairs stays dry unless there are several hurricanes in a row that cause a major flood, as happened in 2004. We’ll see, but there was significant flooding on this river late this summer, and this place stayed dry, so it looks promising.
Our last house was nine feet above sea level in an area that would get a 14 to 24-foot storm surge if directly hit by a major hurricane. This place is 49 feet above sea level, which is a dizzying height in Florida — I’m not even sure I’ll be able to boil water! So I feel like we’ve addressed the climate change risk as best we can without leaving the state altogether.
The new place has tons of potential, as I’ve described, but it is definitely a fixer-upper. The previous occupants apparently chain-smoked a carton of cigarettes a day for many years, so we’re scouring the walls and getting ready to paint everything. We’ll also have to replace the A/C and duct work because it’s coated with nasty nicotine residue. The popcorn ceiling is a horror that must be addressed at some point. Suggestions welcome!
Anyhoo, that’s my news. I’ve been stressed out as hell for the past several weeks as we tried to put this deal together and then prepared to move out of a house we’d lived in for 14 years. I’m a creature of habit, so change is hard for me. The additional anxiety prompted me to take a break from the news so I wouldn’t lose my goddamned mind altogether. For that reason, I’ve been absent from the blog a lot and probably a bitch-kitty when present. Apologies for that!
But the critters are adjusting, and so will I. After all, I’m home.