A few months back, in an effort to meet like-minded people, I attended a storytelling event and actually got up and spoke. This was a huge deal for me. I was shaking from head to toe. You can read about that here. But in the end, it was a huge rush, and I became addicted!
I can’t come often. They usually meet on a night I have to work, but I hope to do it every once in a while, at least. This month’s theme was: Exceeding Yourself:Stories of Personal Mountaintops. So I decided to tell the story of why I moved across the continent to a state where I knew no one and started my life over.
You can hear the 6 minute speech here. It’s so much better with the crowd reaction, even though I stuffed up in the middle and drew a complete blank for a terrifying eternity. But if you can’t listen to sound files, here’s more or less what I said:
Okay, so last time I spoke, Paul awarded me the banana bread of bravado because they were fresh out of scones of courage. This time I have to do it without the promise of carbs at the end, so please be patient with me.
I moved here 10 months ago, and that may not seem like a huge personal achievement in and of itself, but you have got to understand, I’ve been trying to get out of Florida for 30 years, and something always seemed to pull me back. Relationships. Finances. Something always got in the way. But I wanted out of there like it was killing me.
Ah, Florida: the land of the hanging chad, where teachers are prohibited from saying the word “condom”, which is why they rank 19th in teen pregnancies while you rank 33rd.
Florida, where not only can’t you die with dignity, but if you try to pull the plug on your vegetative comatose spouse, the state legislature will try to weigh in. For seven years.
Oh, and you haven’t LIVED until one of the Bush brothers has been your governor. Twice. And then gets replaced by Charlie Crist, who changed political parties. Twice.
So, yeah, moving from Florida to Washington isn’t your basic relocation. Talk about exceeding expectations. It’s like moving to another freakin’ planet. Wouldn’t you exceed your expectations if you suddenly found yourself in the Land of Reasonable People for the first time in your life? Especially when you factor in that I didn’t know a soul here and had never stepped foot in this state. For some reason I thought Seattle would be flat like Florida and snowy like New England. Go figure.
Come to find out, the only thing that the two states seem to have in common is really cool Native American place names, and a weird propensity of serial killers. We even shared Ted Bundy.
That’s about all we share, though, so you’ll have to forgive me if there’s a bit of an adjustment period.
Even the bird song in the morning sounds different. And I’ve experienced spring and fall for the first time in decades. In Florida, all we have is summer and January.
By the way, the sun isn’t supposed to rise at 4:30 in the damned morning! What is WRONG with you people? Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?
It may take me a while to get over the posttraumatic stress of hurricanes, snakes, mosquitoes, fire ants, scorpions, sinkholes that swallow your whole house without warning, and spiders the size of the palm of your hand that rear up and hiss at you. But on the other hand, that high pitched sound you hear during the next earthquake will be me screaming like a little girl.
Speaking of screaming, your reaction to itty bitty bugs cracks me up. You don’t have bugs. Try cockroaches that are big enough to conceal weapons stand their ground. Those are bugs.
But what you do have is the best tap water I’ve ever tasted in my life. Why would anyone buy bottled water in this town when your tap water doesn’t smell normal, like rotten eggs?
And your apples and cherries and dairy products practically make me swoon. But I despair of ever having a good store bought tomato or banana again. And your Fried Chicken? Child, please. You don’t know fried chicken. That could be the only thing that sends me running back to Florida.
But for now, I think you’re stuck with me. When I die, I want my ashes mixed with some fireworks and set off illegally in Lake Union. A triumphant exit for someone who once triumphantly arrived.
(I’m still looking for friends, though, so if you have room on your dance card, let me know!)