I've lived in my house for just about two months, and I still have boxes to unpack. Not all of my furniture made it to my room, due to a chronic presence of snow that prevented my gigantic armoire from making it around the house and into my room. Because of this furniture's absence, boxes of clothes and photos sit in my cavernous room, waiting to be emptied. The winter clothes that I have been wearing are arranged in piles in the laundry room, while my summer clothes sit crunched inside cardboard waiting to be placed in their rightful homes.
Tuesday night, Joe, my roommate/landlord, stood in my doorway as I readied myself for bed. We were talking about his new boyfriend in Florida when he looked at me and said:
"Laurie, how would you feel about moving to Florida?"
I felt my heart stop beating for a minute. Move? To Florida? Why?
"Uhhh..." I responded through a nervous giggle. "I'm....not....sure....." I could feel the confusion showing on my face.
"I'm going to move down there." He told me, his toned shoulder resting against my doorframe.
I didn't know what to do. I looked at my room, the beams stretching across my cathedral ceilings, the creme-colored walls, all the space I was allowed to inhabit.
"Yeah. I'm going to sell this house and move to Florida. But I'm still going to commute here to work."
As it is now, Joe works Tuesday through Thursday as a successful dentist in our small town. He leaves every Friday morning for Ft. Lauderdale and returns every Monday night. He's always happy to go, and sad to come back. My presence in his house isn't due to a strong friendship between the two of us and a desire to spend an obscene amount of time together; My presence there is an arrangement that suits the two of us famously. I have a place to live, and he has someone to make sure his dog, Venus, is taken care of. I was given a break in rent, and he was given the freedom to split his time between Florida and Pennsylvania.
"You're going to commute?" I asked him, unsure of how that made any financial sense.
"Well, basically I'll be doing the same thing I'm doing now, but if I sell this house I'll have more money to buy a bigger place in Ft. Lauderdale."
I had hardly even been given a chance to enjoy the house: The pool had been covered in a blanket of snow since I moved in, its shape only barely visible in the recent weeks. I hadn't yet enjoyed dinner on the screened-in porch, relaxed in the steam-shower downstairs, or stretched out in the glory of central air conditioning.
"Well....That's an interesting choice to make."
"I know. But you know, I thought to myself: I'm young, I'm not responsible to anybody but myself, and if I don't do it know, when will I? I might as well do it while I can enjoy it, right?"
I nodded. "But where do I come in? I mean, why ask to take me with you?"
"Well, Venus can't be alone for three days while I'm here working. And I don't want to rent a room to some stranger. And, besides, you've gotta get out of here." He pushed himself off of the doorframe and walked into my room. "Really, what's here for you?"
I shrugged my shoulders.
"I know, I know," he continued, "I'm crazy." He looked around my room. "Look at this. You still have boxes packed and I'm talking about moving."
I gave a half-hearted laugh. I was crushed. I love this house, I thought. I don't want to leave it.
"So, what do you think?" He asked.
"Joe, I really don't know."
"Why not? I mean, seriously, Laurie. What on earth is keeping you here? There are banks in Florida, too, you know."
"I know that..."
"And you're never going to meet the kind of guy you want to meet here. Contrary to what Austin may have shown you, not all of Ft. Lauderdale is gay. The men have money and nice cars...And even though you wouldn't be able to go to your parents' house for dinner when you don't want to cook, I'm sure you could have a date every night of the week."
"You won't have to worry about snow, or coats, or scarves or gloves. You could trade in your 4Runner for some hot little sports car."
I giggled, but all I could of was how the Florida weather doesn't agree with me: It gives me sun rash; Oppressive humidity and my skin are not compatible. And Florida bugs would eat me alive. It wasn't even bug season when I was there, and I was covered in bites.
"And it's the perfect situation," he said, sitting next to me on my bed. "Usually, when someone moves to a new city, they have to find a job and house and everything as soon as they get there, if not before they leave. But you'll have a place to live already waiting for you. And you'll have friends there: You'll have me, and Austin, and Ed and Scott. You'll have everything you need."
"Well, I don't know, Joe. I'll have to think about it."
I didn't know how to say that I don't want a sports car, I love my 4Runner. I didn't know how to tell him that I like Milford. Because telling someone that you actually like Milford feels like you may as well be telling them that you like to be peed on. No one understands why, especially when you're an attractive, single, twenty-four-year-old woman.
"Well, I hope you come with me," he said, rising from the bed and walking toward the door. "I think it would be great for you. A girl like you is wasted on Milford."
I thanked him for the compliment as he left my room, leaving the huge decision on my shoulders: Do I go, or do I stay?
I'll admit, the idea of going with him is appealing. I'm sure there's far more money to be made down there than there is here. And I'm sure he's right about the men and the opportunties available to me there. But no part of me really wants to go.
For whatever reason, I like here. Despite the cold weather and the shitty pay, I truly enjoy my life. I feel at home here, and I know some people who search constantly for a place that feels like home. And part of me thinks if I've already found it, why leave? And even though I know I could always go, then come back if I don't like it, the idea of moving at all doesn't fill me with excitement; it fills me with dread.
Because I'm scared.
I'm scared of being a 20 hour drive away from my parents. I'm scared of finding my way around a new city full of one-way streets and long traffic lights. I'm scared of making new friends. I'm scared I won't make any. I'm scared of hating it. I'm scared of putting myself in a city utterly foreign to me and trying to survive completely on my own. I'm scared of not finding a job, or finding one only to find out that it's horrible. I'm scared of being miserable. I'm scared of taking a chance. I'm scared of change.
And so I wonder: What the hell will become of me? If I don't leave this tiny town some day and try to make something work for myself, what in the world will happen?