Florida means “flowery land” and that simply is not true. The nicest flower I’ve ever found here was in the Florida Keys while photographing my first destination wedding. It was a plumeria, which is in my top five favorite flowers just because its second name is frangipani, and it was likely planted by the hotel staff. Any other flowers you come across here have also been plotted by landscapers. When I’ve been in fields taking photos of sweet families or expecting bellies, the only flowers have been weathered weeds surrounded by fire ants, which then crawled between my toes and began their attack. In any other remote parts of Florida I’ve been to, there’s nothing but bushes and standing water. A flowery land Florida is not.
The only flower I truly enjoyed was one I smelled more than I ever saw in person. I remember it making its presence known during a few motorcycle rides with Daniel during summer — I could smell orange blossoms in the air. On those nights it was somehow really cool in the air, not humid and hot, so that really beautiful scent traveled far and followed us closely. And I remember smelling those blossoms when we trespassed into a swimming pool at night while the moon was full and beaming. So I do have those fluttery Florida moments in my memory, but my little heart is in another state right now, and her name is Oregon. Oregon doesn’t really mean anything for certain, especially something that isn’t true, and I like that.
The origin of the state name is uncertain, but “Oregon” might have been derived from a 1715 French map which refers to the Wisconsin River as “Ouaricon-sint.”
Another opinion is that the name “Oregon” stems from an English army officer’s proposal for a trip in 1765, in which he refers to “the River called by the Indians Ouragon.” Oregon was admitted as the 33rd state on February 14, 1859.
That last fact is really interesting since I was originally going to be moving there on February 13 so my first official day there would be Valentine’s Day — Oregon’s very stately birthday! Since my last update at the end of September a lot happened:
- We told our janky landlord we were leaving and moved all of our belongings to a storage unit.
- We temporarily moved into my in-law’s home.
- Daniel found a job in Portland.
- He had to tell his company and friends of the past ten years that he was leaving.
- (I still need to meet with my friends before I go, it’s been hard to organize that so far. I’ve been sick, pregnant, sick again, recovering from surgery, etc)
- We found a house to rent in the Creston Kenilworth neighborhood.
- I had someone from TaskRabbit drive to the house and take pictures of it to see if she thought it was okay to rent without us ever seeing it.
- Daniel went on a road trip in his truck across the USA with our very good friend at the end of November, they even made it to the Grand Canyon right at sunrise.
- Then he arrived at our mystery house and began to make it a home by single-handedly hauling and crafting IKEA furniture on the weekends.
- I spent those weeks being hugely pregnant and sad that he was going to be gone until the first week of January.
- He had to bravely immerse himself into a new company, into new people and a barrel of unknowns.
- His mom and I had crazy 7 AM yard sales which to me really felt like cleansing rituals and we got rid of many things.
- Daniel completely surprised me by showing up at my bedroom door on Christmas Eve just before midnight after flying all day. I am actually still in awe and it’s almost February.
- He was here with me for the weeks leading to the birth of our second beautiful son, Gavin Connor.
- I got myself out of the hospital bed on the same night of my surgery and went home two days later. On the night I got up, my nurse told me it was her birthday when she helped me to the bathroom at midnight. I felt bad.
- Daniel put all of our belongings from the storage unit into a single shipping container which is making its way across the USA as I type.
- We sold my car since we only need one vehicle there.
- And then Daniel went back to Portland a week ago.
The story only continues as I leave Florida in two weeks on February 6. I’ll be in the air at 6:30 AM with Daniel’s mom, a one month old Gavin, and a feisty two year old Liam. It means we are getting up at 4 AM with suitcases full of baby clothes, kiddie cups and bowls, whatever is left of the diaper supply, the same few pajamas I’ve worn everyday for the last two months, a box of Annie’s strawberry bunnies and Liam’s second favorite thing besides those bunnies: hickory BBQ potato chips.
The day I leave marks 11 years and 11 months of living in Florida. Although we fell in love with Portland (and truly, with Oregon) during our fifth wedding anniversary vacation this past July, of course my heart feels tattered when I think about the day I’ll be leaving Florida. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this place. I came here a month after I turned 19, on the tails of two romances, one which was ending and one which was beginning. Oh, to be a silly young girl. I think I always felt in my teen years that the way to find happiness was A) being in love and B) escaping wherever it is that you are. I look back at myself then and the time that I left home and it seems like a strange blur. I didn’t realize that I would be leaving my parents and only seeing them a handful of times from that moment on. I guess I didn’t know if I would be going back home or not. And I didn’t realize that I would learn so much about myself and life, yet be stuck in a perpetual daydream until I found Daniel. Even when I found him, it took me much too long to get the big picture. Luckily in 2008 I did find that picture, in the wildest of colors, and my life truly began. So even though a lot of my time in Florida was thrown into a black hole, I did find my true love here, and now we have two little true lovies of our own in Liam and Gavin.
I am sure we will be back here to see our friends again and to visit the places that made our story whole along the way. I am so excited to start our new adventure in Oregon, a life I know will be so much fuller and bold than anything we could have had here. But there was something romantic to me about Florida in the beginning, something unknown and a place that I knew would give me more opportunities and luck than I had where I grew up. It did do that, and I won’t forget what it all has meant to me, even though I lost track of some parts of me along the way. So Florida, I do owe many things to you. You gave me the blossom of my life, while my parents gave me the roots. My life until I found Daniel was merely a stem. Our almost six years of being married has been the time when the flower opened to the sun.
Now my next adventure will send those infinite petals soaring into the cool breeze which always follows us.