Florida has been my second home for the past 15 years. It is, without a doubt, second only to Montreal as the place on earth where I’ve spent the most time. I’ve got routines, acquaintances, comfort zones and a life down here. And though I, and the people I travel with have changed, Florida hasn’t, or at least not too much. Yes the hurricane five or six years ago tore some roofs up, and maybe there are more ants, but for the most part it’s stayed the same (save for one ill fated restaurant location that has changed at least once a year for the past five years). The water is remarkable for it’s consistent inconsistencies. One is always able to paddle here, this year I don’t think there was one session I missed due to bad water. The price for these steady conditions is a current that seems to eschew the moon and it’s phases in favor of whatever the hell it feels like doing. The wind can be frustrating in its monotony; one week a north wind, two weeks an east wind, two weeks a south wind…etc, but it’s a small price to pay for a few months in a low budget paradise.
Florida has left it’s mark on me as well, in the form of little creek beds and sun spots that now scar my face as they only should a thirty-eight year old. At thirty I’m not supposed to have this many laugh lines and brow creases, damn it, I’m not. Florida has left me terrified of SUV drivers with blue hair and it’s even curbed my road rage as a finger waved at the wrong person might involve a much more serious come back. And living here, in the shadow of Cape Canaveral I’ve finally gotten off my ass and learnt some constellations, stars and planets.
It’s hasn’t all be stars and watering holes. I’ve had some of the worst times of my life here as well. Training camp can beat anyone down, and if you’re beaten too badly getting up isn’t easy. It’s also hard to be away from my family and loved ones for three months at a time. And I suspect that it’s harder for me than any of them, despite their assurances. This year has been especially hard as I’m now an uncle and my niece has made, as babies are wont to do, incredible progress towards become something resembling a little human. When I left home she was a cute, barely standing, blabbermouth who blabbered nothing but nonsense. But now, I’m told, she’s a true little biped and even has moments of actual coherent speech. I can’t wait to see her. I’ve also lost a cat. Boots the fourth or maybe fifth, with his shiny tuxedoed coat, was ancient for a Hall cat, he died at roughly eighteen. I missed my birthday, my 30th, which happened to coincide with my mothers, as it does every year. But this year she turned thirty five years older than me, kind of a big one and I’m sorry to have missed it. These are just little things but most of life is just little things and there’s been fifteen years of them spent down south.
But I would do it all again in a heartbeat. this post isn’t supposed to be overly sentimental. I love what I do, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it. And though there are some sacrifices they’re minor compared to what many go through. I’m happy, damn it, happy. Have a good day!