It was maybe one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I had to pack up and move away from a state where I have spent eleven-twelfths of my life.
We decided to move from Indianapolis to Orlando for a number of reasons, and although I was happy to go, I was equally sad to leave the state I’ve called home for as long as I can remember.
We settled on Orlando, Florida for a few reasons: one, with a mixed-race family, going to “The South” is not an option. Two, while most of big-city Florida would accept a mixed-race family, Orlando has Disney World.
As much as I hate leaving Indiana, I love Disney World! I’m a big kid when it comes to tromping around my favorite theme park. When my wife finally got me to agree to move, I would only accept moving to Orlando because “it’s the most magical goddamn place on earth!”
Seriously. Tampa, Jacksonville, Naples, and all the rest were all out of the question. “Orlando, or I’m not going,” I said.
So we purged most of our belongings, packed up the rest, sold the house, loaded up two PODS, and headed south.
I’ve talked about this so much with people that I’m tired of telling it again. If you want to know, ask me. Buy me coffee and ask me.
The last few months have been filled with “last times.” The last time I’ll be in Syracuse, Indiana (where we lived for 12 years). The last time I’ll be in Bloomington, because we’ll only get back to Indy a couple times a year, and won’t have time to buzz down for a day. The last time I’ll see this place or that person, at least for a while.
It was the little things that caught in my throat. The last Indiana Fever game. The last Shakespeare on the Canal. The last Indianapolis Fringe festival. (That one hurt.)
And it’s all totally stupid. It’s not like I won’t ever be back. It’s not like I can’t arrange to do these things again.
It’s just that, for the moment, I want to feel a little sorry for myself.
When you love the place you’ve lived in for 44 years, you get to feel sorry for yourself when you leave. It’s a rule somewhere.
My two youngest kids and I drove in my car on Tuesday night. As we approached the Ohio River, I shut off the radio, and tried to talk for several seconds. The words didn’t get past the giant lump very easily. Luckily, my throat has been sore for a few days, so the rasp in my voice was easily explained.
“Once we cross the river, we will no longer be Indiana residents,” I say. “We’ll come back again, but we won’t live here any more.”
The three of us hold hands as we drive. Like we’re entering a portal and we don’t want to be separated. But there’s no flash or Dr. Who sounds — just like that, we don’t live in Indiana.
We’ll always be from Indiana. That won’t change. But it will always be in the past. We “used to” live in Indiana. Just like I “used to” be a teenager. I “used to” play soccer.
But this is what good fathers and husbands do. When your family needs something, you provide. When they need protection, you step up. And when they need to go somewhere else, you follow.
We’re in Georgia tonight. Six hours away from our new home. We’ve made it a fun drive. My wife and I are in separate cars, and we decided not to convoy down. We stop when either of us feels like it or takes the route we want to take. I always make a couple stops in Nashville and Louisville for some of my favorite coffee.
We call when it’s time for dinner or a hotel, but other than that, we’re each taking our own way, making our own trip. It makes for a much less stressful trip.
Tonight, we went to Senoia, Georgia, where they filmed several episodes of the Walking Dead. I’ve never watched the show, but the rest of the family loves it. I hate scary movies.
They have a blast looking around, remembering different scenes from different episodes. We eat at Zac Brown’s Southern Grounds restaurant. The food is amazing. Definitely worth a detour if you can swing it.
Tomorrow is the last six hours of the trip. We’re renting a vacation home for two months while we scout out a permanent home. Then the PODS will be delivered, we’ll unpack and move in, and we’ll be “from Orlando.”
That is, I’ll live in Orlando. But I’ll always be the misplaced Hoosier. From Indiana.