After living in California for the past 25 years, I am now a statistic of yet another person who has moved out of the state during the pandemic.
Feeling like I was under house arrest, from March to December of 2020, made me reflect and reevaluate my values. I came to the conclusion that although I love California, it was time to return to the tribe. Most of my family and childhood friendships were in, or at least a short plane ride way, from Florida.
It was time to start a new chapter where I put relationships, a sense of belonging, and planting roots, as the priorities of my life.
I also hit the real estate ceiling in California. I had been paying thousands of dollars a month in rent for 25 years, and I could not afford to buy anything. At least in Sarasota I could have a shot at home ownership.
The final push to move me forward started in September when I noticed that the heat was not working at my house. I informed the owner, and then a two month battle ensued to get him to fix it. I ended up getting sick from temperatures that were down into the 30’s. I had to heat my house by keeping the door open on the gas oven, because the space heaters were blowing the electrical circuits. I was alone, vulnerable, and on a mandatory lock down. I finally had to hire my own service person, who got the heat back on in about 24 hours, and cost around $300 for the repair.
I no longer wanted to rent from a slum lord to whom I was paying several thousand a month… I started looking at properties to lease in Florida. This coincided with a culmination of pressure that I was receiving from friends and family to move to there.
I found a place to lease and vetted the owner of the new house - I especially wanted to know that this was an investment property that would be leasable long term.
I knew that after the energy, time, and money it would take to get my belongings, my business, a vehicle and cats from California to Florida, I would not have the capacity to move again for awhile.
I prepared for the move, non-stop, for six weeks. I took one last ride to my beloved grocery store, Erewhon (“nowhere” spelled backwards), and wouldn’t you know it, “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin came on the radio, and goodbye tears came rolling down my cheeks. On that drive I recalled who I was and what I wanted when I first moved to CA, juxtaposed against who I am and what I want now. I also lamented on any of the un-materialized dreams that will have to be left behind.
When I finally sat down on the plane, I was able to surrender and truly feel how exhausted I was. I took note that there wasn’t an ounce of energy left to feel excitement. I felt numb at best.
I arrived in Florida with the cats, and had a few family members on hand to escort me to the new house where there was a small air mattress, some water, and key lime pie.
I only brought a weeks worth of clothing, because the movers were due to arrive in five days with my belongings, which took up 18 feet of a moving truck.
The first five days, I pretty much slept and got food delivered.
Then I found out that the moving truck broke down near the Mexican border; it was there for six days. The driver then went rouge, and took the truck, and everything I own in it, back to California and dropped it off.
The owner of the moving company was out of the country and could not be reached. The guy who he left in charge did not speak English and did not want to communicate with me. For weeks there was no end it sight of when or “if” my belongings would arrive.
Meanwhile, family and friends are accusing me of having bad judgment for hiring this moving company, which actually was a referral. I researched them and things looked good, but when my things disappeared and I could not get any communication, I researched them again. New reviews popped up about people NEVER getting their things, and that this company is a fraud.
At this point, I am in an empty house, on an acre of land with an air mattress, my laptop, using an empty box as a table. Weeks go by and I have no idea if, or when, I will ever see anything I own.
The only thing that kept me feeling normal was my work.
I still helped my clients heal their erectile dysfunction, save their relationships or get out and date. I kept working with my coach to stay on track to release something new and amazing for men in the next few months.
Five weeks later, my things did finally arrive. It then took several weeks to unpack.
After unpacking I was so exhausted that I did not leave the house for two weeks. I would wake up and put my feet on the floor, and I could not move them forward. I had to get all my food delivered, but I didn’t have the energy to get up and meet the delivery person at the door, so I just had them leave it.
Soon after, I received a certified letter from the new owner that I have to vacate the property when my lease is up in December. There was no conversation about this. It’s just this cold letter saying to make sure all of my things are out and to leave the keys.
I again collapsed, and didn’t leave the house for two weeks. This time something snapped in me; I broke. My nervous system gave out. I felt shock, exhaustion, fear, emptiness, and then depression. It’s been months now and the depression has not lifted.
I never really got to relax or enjoy Florida before getting the rug pulled out from under me.
Then I learn that people who I have known almost my entire life can not handle me being vulnerable or broken. I am the strong one, the healer, and the sounding board. Now when I need them, they are not available. This blew my mind, and broke my heart - these people are the reason I moved here.
Furthermore, no one can prepare you for the culture shock of moving here from the West coast. You might hear about it before you move, but you really have to experience it for yourself.
With that said, I have received much kindness and generosity from strangers here, and that is what has kept me going.
I am not yet out of the depression. The darkness is still here. Most days I let it have its way with me, allowing myself to surrender into the abyss. I am still in the middle of the contraction between birth and death. Mourning what was, what is and not knowing what will be.
And I am feeling fearful that I will be homeless, because there is a housing shortage for rentals and it will be peak season when I have to leave this house. I don’t know how I will have the capacity to move in five months. I just don’t.
And when I listen to the people who have just moved here, they are so happy, and they all say, “I live in paradise!” I hope to say that, I really do. But what if I don’t? That scares me, too.
I facilitate a weekly mens group, and I have been asked how can I relate to men? I say this… I know for a fact that every man in the group this year has felt one or more of these emotions: disillusionment, anger, fear, hopelessness, isolation, sadness, depression, and loneliness. They have felt these things whether they are single, or in a relationship. We are all feeling the same things, especially in the aftermath of last year.
Be of service. Throughout my life when I have been down, that is my cue to be of service. My mens group has been a life saver, because I get to forget about myself, have empathy and hold space for another’s transformation.
I am a mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy person who is temporarily struggling with loneliness, isolation, and depression. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. It’s okay to feel this way. I don’t need to be happy 100% of the time. What I could use is more acts of love, kindness, and compassion right now.
We all can.
Be a verb in someone life. Don’t just text, visit them. Take them out for a walk, or a drive. Bring them a snack, or a six-pack. Do mental health checks on friends and family. If you can’t see them then call, do not talk about yourself at all… be present, just listen.
Keep in mind that when someone is depressed they won’t reach out, but you can still reach in.
Here is one of my favorite quotes:
“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.” -Luciano De Crescenzo
I moved away from the Los Angeles the, “City of Angels,” and I find myself needing them more now than ever.
Be someone’s angel today.
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