I have some big news to share! My family includes 4 boys (3-16 years old), two grown-ups, 2 dogs and 2 cats – and in the next couple of months we’ll be moving. On July 1, 2011 my family (then including only 3 boys aged 7, 4, and 1 and a single cat and two grown-ups) moved from Kentucky to Florida. I remember that move because it was so incredible, you probably wouldn’t believe me.
Coming into the summer of 2011, my wife and I made the decision to move to Florida. I was harshly under-employed, we were still struggling from the recession of ~2008, where we lost our home to foreclosure. Things were tough, to say the least. In search of a better life, we put almost everything we owned into a storage unit and rented the smallest uhaul trailer you could rent, and packed some toys, clothes and a few other household goods and headed south. Well, we did have a plan, but it was very concerning, especially looking back. My wife had been a nurse for a number of years at this point, so she took a job as a travel nurse. Our first 3 month stop would be in Panama City, Florida. This job paid her well, and even would pay for housing for all of us. It was a chance to improve our conditions, and a chance for me to find work in the field in which I was educated. The plan was for her to work, and when we found a place we liked, I’d look for employment. Meanwhile, I home-schooled our oldest son (then in second grade) and cared for our other two boys while she worked.
I’ll never forget that first night arriving in Panama City – we literally arrived with not much more than the clothes on our back. We were counting on the agency who hired my wife to follow-through, there was no backup plan. We pulled into this small apartment complex on the east side of Panama City and got the keys to our very small, fully furnished, 2 bedroom condo. It was probably 800 square feet, if that. Later, after requesting a larger unit, they moved us to Panama City Beach into a 2 bedroom apartment that was much larger. After three months in PCB, her next position was in Hudson, Florida. Hudson was just outside of Clearwater, near Tampa. This time we decided to handle our housing ourselves, and found a house in the country, if you can believe this! I have really fond memories of this house, it was really secluded, the only other house nearby were the folks who rented this really nice double-wide trailer (it had a wrap-around porch in the middle of many large oak trees, you never would’ve guessed it was a double-wide).
The “drive-way” to our new home was at least a mile long, I think longer. While my wife was at work, I home-schooled our oldest. Daily we would take walks along this road on our “lunch break”, along with the other two boys (and our cat, who would walk with us and still does today in our neighborhood). There were cranes and other beautiful wildlife nearby. One of my lasting memories of this place was how incredibly dark it got at night – and being secluded, it was uncomfortable, but comforting at the same time. We spent our first Christmas in Florida in this house. It was a beautiful ~70 degrees that morning, and it was wonderful. My wife’s next assignment would bring us to Pensacola, Florida. We moved there in February of 2012, and once again rented a nice home outside of a little town named Gulf Breeze.
Since my wife and I thought we’d enjoy the area, I started looking for work almost immediately. In March of 2012 I was hired by a company that made Software as a Service to do some Project Management type work. We rented a home on a permanent basis (which meant another, short, move). We enrolled our oldest in school, and found a daycare for the other two. We have been here ever since, embracing the life that has been given to us. Since then, I transitioned to a role as a software tester more than a few years ago, and LOVE doing this job, I think it’s what I was meant to do all along.
In January of 2020, my wife and I returned “home” to Kentucky to visit family. When we arrived at our hometown, both of us commented that we’re so glad we moved and couldn’t imagine moving back. By the end of the week, I mentioned that I might be willing to move back, if the circumstances were right. We discussed this in depth on the car ride home. When I returned to work, I told my manager I wanted to work remote full-time so that my family and I could return to Kentucky. I wasn’t hopeful, but submitted some paperwork and updated my resume, just in case.
This spring, right before COVID-19 really struck and forced us all into quarantine, my full-time-remote status was approved. Since then, we’ve been adjusting like everyone else. But as we come to the reopening of society gradually, we’re starting to make movements towards our destination, returning our life full-circle and moving back to Kentucky. This weekend I pressure-washed the house and did some other work to get it ready to list. I fully expect to be living again in Kentucky by July, pending selling our home and buying a new one, and all the work associated with that. I’m worried, concerned, scared and looking forward to our new adventure together, again.