When Jeff and I moved to Florida (nine years ago this January) we had a plan. Yes, it was a half-assed plan, but a plan nonetheless. We moved here to sell wire-wrapped crystals on Clearwater Beach. That’s the idea that got us moved from Point A to Point B.
At the time, I had just finished writing my first book and we were done with living in the snowbelt (Fort Wayne, IN). We were looking for some way to move nearer a tropical beach, and I “just happened” to meet someone in Fort Wayne who told me about the daily Sunset Festival on Clearwater Pier. I had been making jewelry for a couple years and selling it on eBay and at art fairs, but a daily festival was a way to make a living!
What I wanted, more than anything else, was to find a publisher for what was eventually titled Shape Shifting–reclaiming your perfect body, and to make a living as a writer. Making jewelry was a hobby that I loved, and I would enjoy doing this as a way to make money while I wrote. So I quit my job in the newsroom, cashed in my 401K and we started making plans.
One thing I learned from doing art fairs is that presentation is everything … it’s how you get customers to even look at your wares. So Jeff’s dad made me a sturdy vendor’s cart, from scratch, and my good friend Linda, an incredibly talented artist, painted it for me. She even made the Carnivale mask that hangs from the front. It was, truly, a work of art and it was a wonderful gift from two people who really cared about us.
We put most of our stuff in storage and headed south in this tiny little camper, where we lived for the first several months until we moved into a (slightly larger) fifth-wheel camper, and then eventually into the house we’re in now, which Jeff has dubbed his “Monkee’s Beach House.”
Unfortunately, selling jewelry on the pier didn’t work out, for many reasons, and that gorgeous cart became a lawn ornament. Meantime, I published three books and have now signed with Berkley to write my fourth. I strongly believe that “the Universe” brought us here, to this specific place in Florida, so I would meet and become friends with my co-author, Stacey Kananen. And now that my work in Florida is done, Jeff and I are being pulled elsewhere, out to Arizona, in much the same way we were pulled here … it’s just flowing like it’s “meant to be.” And today, we gave that gorgeous, old weather-beaten jewelry cart to our neighbor Terre, who is just hippie enough to love it almost as much as we do.
It’s heartbreaking to see the empty space in the yard where the cart used to be, but Jeff and I both know that it simply marks the end of this chapter, this era, in our lives. It’s as if the door has now officially closed on our Florida years and the cowboy call of the Old West is getting louder. I have a very strong feeling that our first Amnesty for Abuse House is waiting for me to arrive in AZ and roll up my sleeves.