On the morning of October 4th, 2010, I boarded a flight for San Francisco from Orlando. I promised myself that by the time I hit 30, if I didn't like where I was at, I would turn everything upside down and start again.
It was still dark when the plane left, and as I watched the lights of Orlando fade behind me, I wondered when I would see it again. It was a misty and cold dawn as we switched planes in Charlotte. The mist in the trees reminded me of my childhood home just a few hours up the interstate from where I currently stood. I could maybe switch my ticket or hop a bus in that direction instead. Maybe I could get my old job back and see the friends that I hadn't visited in years. No...time to press on. I knew there was no turning back at this point and I fastened my seatbelt as the the plane began the ascent to 30,000 feet.
I'd flown across the country before. This wasn't my first time on the West Coast and I was looking forward to it. Surely here, I would finally walk down through Chinatown and relive the haunts of my idol, Jack Keroauc and Ginsberg, the crazy Beatniks that changed my life forever.
The plane descended through the fog and we landed in the city on the bay. To my left was Google, Apple and San Jose. To the right was Oakland and East Bay. Ahead was the promise of something better and a family member who convinced me to make the plunge and do something so completely radical and life-changing in relation to anything I had ever done before.
I spent the next couple days trying to find jobs and a place to live. Other than the rather creepy offers of sharing a bed in the Castro District and hesitant maybes of working as a host in the Marina District, I was striking out. Suddenly, the same family member who I had counted on decided I wasn't worth helping any more. Off to the hostels.
I walked through every district, searching for jobs. Nothing. The hostels at night were an interesting place to be and having almost a decade of life on most of the kids who came through them made for both an entertaining and sobering experience. A few friends sent me money via Paypal but time was running out.
There was nowhere else to go and other than living in a homeless shelter, I had no other option but to leave town. But how? Finally, my mother wired me the money to buy a bus ticket and at 12pm the next day, I was on a bus, headed southbound to LA. 53 hours later, bedraggled and unshowered, and without my luggage I found myself in Louisiana. We still don't know where my luggage is but somewhere in the Houston area, someone is wearing some oxblood combat boots and a Florida Gators hat, in possession of my college diploma and whatever other documents I had.
The next few months were hell. Finding a job, even in Louisiana, was hard. I finally managed a part-time gig waiting tables which allowed me to buy a vehicle. Even transferring my driver's license from Florida was a headache in itself.
In January, I decided that even though I was not financially stable, I still needed someone in my life. I took it upon myself to go to the internet in search of love, since my previous experiences had been a failure. To my surprise, I found it. We've been together almost 9 months now, and I couldn't be happier with her.
Yes, there is still a long way to go. Life is not perfect now, nor do I ever expect it to be. However, I've seen more than I have ever expected to and lived more than most of the people I went to high school with. The story isn't over. Don't count me out. There's more adventures to come.