When I decided to move to Florida for three months at the beginning of 2013 the question I planned to ask myself at the end of the period was whether the snowbirding experience was good enough that I’d be willing to do it again in 2014. But midway into the second month I found myself asking myself a very different question: did I want to move to the Fort Lauderdale area permanently?At that same point if I’d have asked myself to rate the visit on a scale of one to ten the answer would have been “twelve.” Why was the answer that high?
Wilton Manors, Florida, where I was living is an almost exclusively gay environment. Before moving here, like everybody else straight or gay, I’d lived only in an almost exclusively straight environment. It was a shock seeing men casually kissing each other on the street as old friends met, and finding restaurants filled predominantly with tables full of men, laughing and talking, obviously having a grand gay time. It’s all very liberating in the true meaning of that word!
I have good friends and even relatives in Florida, and when I had only been here for nine days I met David Vargo, a wonderful Floridian who is likely to play a large part in my future.
|Douglas Whaley and David Vargo|
The weather is terrific, and while in prior years I’ve spent enough time in the summer in Florida to know that the summers are very humid and hot, any place in the world has bad weather sometimes, and I’d rather have bad weather in the summer than bad weather in the winter. This year was a particularly good winter to have been away from Ohio. When I first came down I started sending daily “FS” (Florida Smirk) messages back up north (“82º today, what’s it like back home?”), but I soon quit because it became cruel. When my friends in Ohio are looking at 22º days and six inches of snow, they don’t want to hear about the good life in Fort Lauderdale. By comparison when one day in February the temperature went down to a high of 72º, I stepped outside of a restaurant at the same time as another woman who I didn’t know, and when she felt the outside air and said, “Brrr!, I smiled.
I will turn 70 on September 25th of this year. It occurred to me that if I continue to live in Columbus, Ohio, a city I love and where I have a chosen family and many friends, it will be a comfortable life, but I certainly can predict what 2014 will look like, and I also know what 2015 will look like, and also 2016, 2017, etc. But if I sell my house in Ohio and move down to the Sunshine State, my seventies will likely be very different: exciting and filled with new adventures.
“Snowbirding, My iPhone 5, and the Coming Crazy Cat Trip,” December 5, 2013
“The Busy Snowbird: Florida Smirk #1,” January 24, 2013