Sunday, July 23, 2017

Live Through This And You Won't Look Back

Nearly 7 years ago, I left Florida, the place of my dreams. I moved there because I was in love with sunrises over Sebastian Inlet, catching snook under the lights at nights, and the Orlando nightlife. I was very happy there, and I had no intention of ever leaving, but life decided otherwise.

In 2006, after a series of failed relationships, I met my ex-wife while working at Sprint in Orlando. It was a good job, not one that I was excited about, but it paid the bills. Very quickly, she moved in and promised me that she would be the best thing I would ever have. Within no time at all, thanks to her, I was in two car accidents in three days.

In a fog of pain pills, I agreed to marry her. I never planned on having kids, but she did, and made sure that she was pregnant before I slipped the ring on her finger, even though I didn't know.

It wasn't long before we hit financial issues. Once she realized that she couldn't stay unemployed, she took off and I didn't see my children for nearly a year after they were born. An old Navy girlfriend and I lived together for a couple more years in Florida, but I wasn't happy and decided to set off for greener pastures somewhere else. My job at Sprint had hit a dead end because I blew the whistle on fraud after 4 years of service.

A family member told me they could help me start a new life in San Francisco. I didn't want to leave my kids behind and Florida was where I was happy. Unfortunately, due to the poor job prospects and the threat of Florida's government to throw me in jail for being in arrears on child support, which I was paying, I hopped on a plane to California.

That quickly fell apart. Within two weeks, I was on a bus to Lafayette, Louisiana with just enough money to hit the dollar menu at the various McDonald's the Greyhound bus stopped at.

My luggage was stolen or lost in Houston. The only things I had left was a few t-shirts and some underwear when I was finally rescued by my mother in Lafayette. There was no money, no car, no job - but it was time to start all over again.

For the first few weeks, I had nothing. I picked pecans from the yard to buy some cheap beers from the store that was a mile away. I eventually landed a job back in the restaurant industry that I had hoped to never work in again. When I got my tax return the following spring, I was able to buy an old Honda and started looking for work elsewhere.

I finally found a niche job in the tech industry here and started rebuilding my credit. In 2014, I was in a horrific car accident where I was hit by a drunk driver, and the settlement allowed me to purchase a new vehicle and pay off some old debts. I then moved into an apartment, then purchased my own home. I've eaten some tremendous Cajun food and put on a few pounds, then trolled the ever-loving fuck out of our local bigots on our news channels.

Through all of this, I supported my kids. Not long after I moved here, I went on a blind date to a hockey game, and we've been together ever since. Her son is like my own. When we first got together, he associated my visits with a trip to the local crawfish joint, which is the cutest thing ever in my mind.

I purchased my home in the hopes that someday I would have custody of my children who were still in Florida. Their mother has an ongoing drug problem and had the kids removed from her custody multiple times before. Back in March, DCF finally stepped in again, and eventually released them into my custody on June 20th at the New Orleans airport.

My house is full now. We have three kids, two cats, and a dog who sleeps between us every night. We aren't rich financially, but we are comfortable in a house we own. We can afford the things we need and we have family that cares about us. I work for the local union and fight for worker's rights, writing some satire for The Red Shtick, along with running the website and the progressive Facebook pages I own. On days that I'm not at work, I whip up meals from my imagination and years of restaurant experience for my family - which gives me incredible joy.

All of those years ago, a friend introduced me to this song and said it would help me get through. He said that one day I would live through this, and I would look back one last time. How right he was.

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