two years in review…

*** drum roll, etc… ***

On this day in history – 2003, to be specific – I first called the tropical hideaway that is the Sunshine State my new home! Just think, 731 days ago I was pulling off of that I-275 ramp with a gleam in my eye, a spring in my step, and a song in my heart after having just made arguably one of the most important trips of my life. I had a lot to look forward to that night…the horrendous back pain that comes from sleeping on a cheap, hotel bed for three weeks being but one highlight…and the more that I thought about it today, it’s hard to believe that it’s been two years already!

(For reference, here and here are a couple recollections of my first days in Tampa, which I found amusing for a number of reasons…)

I thought it might be interesting to jot down just a few of the things that come to mind from the past two years that seemed worth ear-marking, if not simply because two moreyears from now, I might be curious to remember what I remembered back in 2005… 😉

  • First and foremost, Sept. 27th, 2003 marked my first official day here in Tampa, Fla. I traveled some 1438 miles over a course of two days with my most valued personal possessions crammed into every nook and cranny that my car had to offer! (Note to self: pay for the moving truck next time!) Also worth noting – it took me some five years after graduating from high school to finally reach this goal.
  • Although most refuse to believe it, I was about this closeto having to go back to Michigan after running out of money, but I ended up getting a job at the last minute that pretty much saved the day. Despite the detail that it was a temp position and I’m now permanent, I still work for that company today…
  • …and despite any squabbling about office politics and whatnot, I actually reallyenjoy my job. It’s the first job that has allowed me to sit in front of a computer without getting evil glares from an office manager who’d rather have me out unloading semi trucks instead and even though I’ve lately been wondering if I might be developing carpal-tunnel, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had. The company itself treats its employees great and really makes an effort to give back to the community, too, so I hope that I get to stay with them for a long time…
    • By the way, at this time I’ve successfully survived not one, but two RIFs (reductions in force), so it’s kind of hard to guess what the future might hold.
  • I’m very proud of my current situation as far as money is concerned, as I arrived here in Florida with nearly $20,000 worth of credit card debt and am now in the process of wiping out a mere $8,000 (a good chunk of that being my big screen tv from last year!). If anything, I’m glad that I’ve learned what it takes to balance a budget and I look forward to the day when I don’t have to make any credit card payments at all!
  • It only happened onceat the tail end of 2004, but I’m now officially an annual passholder at Walt Disney World because I finally found a wonderful companion who’d be just as happy as I would to go every single weekend if the paychecks allowed it! Mom will vouch that one of my childhood goals has always been to live close enough to be able to go visit Mickey whenever I want…so there you go.
  • Roughly a year ago today – September-ish of 2004 – I actually cut my hair, and can you believe after what…something like eight years of having long hair or a ponytail?! It was a dramatic event that took place on the umpteenth day of the company’s hurricane relief trip to Atlanta and although it was scary at the time, just between you and me – I like it better when its short.Mind you, I still think that it’s a pain to have to go to the barber once a month, but such is life.
  • As far as my personal life goes, I’ve never really had the most solid record with dating and the opposite sex, but one important thing that I learned just this year – and this is a big one– is just what love is supposed to be and why it’s worthwhile in the first place. The trouble with something as trivial as true love is that you really can’t appreciate it until you’ve seen it come and gone, but many a wise man have said that stranger things have happened than lightning striking twice in the same place… 😉
  • A real job, or some might even say a career, coupled with relationships, free time, and just plain, old sleep caused me to part my ways with Just Laugh, the online entity that pretty much gave me a name back in 2000 – 2002, but still today I search for opportunities to bring old projects back to life. Mind you, I’ve been attempting to restart my own writing pages for nearly a year and a half now without completion, however a little walk over to l7comix.comwill prove that I haven’t been entirely without progress these days!
  • I’ve gained weight and I’ve lost weight, but more importantly, I’ve become aware of my health and the importance of keeping myself in better shape – this can be blamed on the overall history of health problems with my family, my Dad’s own stroke shortly after I left Michigan that has left him without any control of his left side two years later, and also the sincere concern of another for not putting myself at unnecessary risk. I still have a ways to go at this point, but I’m trying.
  • I even managed to make the trip home that I always promised to watch my little sister graduate from high school and it was easily worth the tremendous headache that it took to get me there! Said trip also reminded me why I moved to Florida and what I like so much about my new home, so despite how much Brandi would love getting her workout every single night, I don’t think that I’ll be moving back anytime soon.
  • When it all comes down to it, despite some lingering issues that have been on my back lately and not-so-lately, I guess I’m pretty happy with life thus far. I’ve made a lot of personal accomplishments over the last two years and have proved a lot of things to myself that I probably would’ve never imagined when I was 16 or 18. If there’s anything to be learned from my years…other than “credit cards are bad” and “girls don’t really have cooties after-all”…it’s that chances really are worth taking if you’re willing to give them everything that your heart’s got. How’s that for a profound conclusion for ya?!Two years…it’s been a fun trip and I know that deep down, this is only the beginning. By my calculations, the next few years to come should hold even more milestones – first new car, first house, first wife (…just kidding, ahem – only wife…), and who knows, perhaps even that dreaded B-word that will no doubt drive me to my wits end and back! But nonetheless, if I’ve made it this far, there’s no reason not to look forward to the trip and enjoy it for all that it’s got to offer…that’s life for you. 🙂

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