Ha! That is the hope of every fiction writer, I think…to find that silver lining of a new story hidden in every change, lurking around every corner. The good changes allow you to play “what if” and the bad changes already contain the seed of drama needed for a good story.
We’ve been in a state of flux for a couple of years. Changes in my job situation(s), a downturn in the economy, a house that went from right side up to floating dead in the water like that gold fish you forgot to feed when you were ten…I’ve come to think of Kokomo–on my cynical days–as the town where I lost my first $100k…lost wages, lost home value…
Of course, on my not-as-cynical days, I think of some of the fine friends and co-workers we’ve had during our five years here, and it isn’t so bad. Friends from St. Joan who we still love and admire. Co-workers like Cami’s teaching team (Pat, Patti, and Heather) at Western and many of my co-workers at St. Joan, AGLA, and Oxford Learning. The voice students that have been a big part of Cami’s life here, the tutoring students from Oxford Learning in Carmel, and the students at Western Middle School and Western High School. We are choosing to focus on those positive things, rather than making a laundry list of the negatives.
But as a writer, the negatives are the seeds planted, to be watered with time and perspective, and salted with a liberal dose of exaggeration, fact twisting, and dramatization. That’s why I write fiction, you know?
All of the above is a segue into the real content of this post, which is this: Cami and I have visited the Tampa Bay area of Florida close to a dozen times now, and every time it has been harder and harder to leave. We’ve wanted to stay, to find jobs, to find a place to live, to put down roots and not journey back north to Indiana.
As this past school year was winding down, so was our desire to stay here in Kokomo: Our house had been on the market since August, my income was in steady decline due to fewer sub days and fewer tutoring hours, I had put out my resume dozens of times in an effort to land something a little more stable, all without success. We knew we wanted to downsize, simplify, and streamline our lives. We wanted to sell a large portion of our “stuff” and become less weighed down by our possessions. We wanted to live in a house better suited for two people, and one “big girl” salary. We didn’t necessarily want to make all of the changes that were coming, and stay here in Kokomo.
But Cami had a steady job, and I would be able to sub again in the Fall, if we stayed (they seem to like me there, for whatever reason). We were looking at renting a small house or even trying our hand at apartment living here in Kokomo (not an easy task with a grumpy 14 year old beagle in tow…), but at the same time we weren’t tied here. We decided to cast a wide net.
At the end of the year, Cami told her co-workers (many of whom, along with other friends and family, could smell the desire to move radiating off of us like squiggly cartoon skunk smell from an old Loony Toons feature) it would take a miracle for her to not be back at Western next year.
Out of a desire to be in Florida, Cami identified a couple of possible job leads down there, one of which she was really most interested in. It was a performing arts-focused charter school, in need of a math teacher: a math teacher with experience, with a sense of differing learning styles (one of Cami’s favorite subjects), and an appreciation of the arts.
Who better, I said, than you dear! You’ve taught for 12 years, you love varying your lessons so that students of different styles can understand the concepts, and you love teaching voice and being a part of musicals!
Long story short (and it was a long, doubt-filled process for us, even though we tried not to let on) they called, Cami flew down, interviewed, felt really good about the school and her chances, and came home to wait. And wait. To the point that we assumed they had gone in a different direction.
Last Friday, June 19th, they called. And offered her the job she most wanted. They offered to credit all of her years of experience (Western doesn’t consider the two years she taught in Catholic School to be valid) and to add extra years based on the time she spent teaching at Ivy Tech Community College. Which translates: Dream Job, nice raise, in the area we want to live.
So, with our house sale closing in a couple of weeks (please, no more hiccups!), we’ll be journeying to Palmetto/Bradenton Florida.
Here’s a video introduction to the school where Cami will be teaching.
Living arrangements are still to be worked out. We were planning to spend July in the Dade City area at Cami’s parent’s house, anyway, so we have some time to figure out where we’ll be living prior to school starting back up mid-August.
There will be updates and things to come, but for now, you know the story as well as we do…