Put me on the coast of somewhere beautiful.
The story of how I ended up in Southwest Florida is a good one that has yet been told. So here we go.
The year was 2000 and I was in my second senior year at Pittsburg State University in SE Kansas. Yes I was on the 5 year plan. Pittsburg is in the middle of nowhere. The armpit of Kansas I like to say. I loved the school and made tons of great friends but it’s not my idea of a place to settle down. Most people who attend are from KC, they graduate and move back to the city. Not me.
That winter was a bad one. Lots of snow. Not quite as much as the Northeast is getting right now, but enough to start the wheels spinning on the next phase of life. My car got stuck in the snow 3 times in one week. While trudging my way back home and in-between curse words, I started asking myself, “why do you do this to yourself.” “There’s got to be a better way.” “There’s got to be more than Kansas in my future.” Deep thoughts for a 23 year old kid. Exploration and adventure ran through my veins.
I put up a large map of the United States on the wall. I then did research and the Pros and Cons of several states…California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. All south and all warm. You can see where I’m going with this right?
California had excitement, mountains, and the ocean. It also has a trillion people and earthquakes. I hate traffic (road rage) and rather not have the roof fall on my head, so California was out. Arizona didn’t have an ocean. Out. Texas had a lot to offer, but in the end I was really inspired by Florida and figured if you’re going to go south, better go all the way. I wanted to live where people vacation. I wanted palm trees. I wanted 80 degree weather in January. But mostly I wanted a change. So I packed my bags.
My target was Tampa. It had more opportunity for a rookie graphic designer. I did several interviews but nothing came of them. The buddy I talked into moving down with me got an offer to manage a restaurant in a place called Naples. I knew nothing of this town except that it was 2 hours south of Tampa and had lots of old wealthy people. Kick the tires and light the fires, Naples here I come.
I moved down to Naples in September of 2001. Didn’t know a sole, didn’t have a job, but knew this was the right decision. For the first 3 weeks I woke up, sent resumes out and ran on the beach every morning. It was magical. So much to take in. So much to explore. So many adventures to be had. Did I know everything was going to work out? No. Was I scared? Strangely no. Something told me this was where I was suppose to be. This was my new life. A small town kid, now living on the coast of somewhere beautiful. A dream come true.