My second Florida home…it’s a complex relationship but man is it a good time!
“You are going to LOVE living in Fort Lauderdale…South Florida is its own world!” – lady I worked with at Bealls before I left for Lauderdale.
She was at least right about one thing…it is a whole ‘notha world down there!
I both loved and loathed living in South Florida. Since this is a “series” about my love for places, I’m leaving out the loathing. I wrote in 2020 in a post that when I visit Fort Lauderdale on layovers, that I get anxiety. Why? First, it reminds me of getting my job. Which was a wonderful thing for me but everything was so new and scary…and the stress of training was immense. Second, it reminds me of when things were shit between Clinton & I. Such shit that we broke up for a few months. Third, it reminds me of his accident. So yeah. A lot went down in SoFlo.
Happily though, all that anxiety has sorta dissipated. Our relationship has been the healthiest either of us has ever experienced the last 3 years, his recovery has been beautiful, and I’m senior enough in my job now that I don’t feel like a scared newbie anymore. Over time everything has just sorta cleared up so I can go back to enjoying the things I know I genuinely loved about SoFlo.
Here’s a brief (not brief at all haha) timeline of my time in Fort Lauderdale & eventually, Boca Raton.
I started training for my job in August (training in FLL was cut short due to Hurricane Irma so the airline evacuated us out to our training center in Vegas) & when we came back to Florida I was freaking out because I hadn’t been able to check on crash pads because I’d been in Vegas for weeks! I had no place to stay and it was time for me to start my first block of reserve days so on my drive from Daytona to FLL, I assumed I’d stay in a hotel or even the crew room at the airport until I had something set in stone. I hadn’t even made it halfway when Fina, my roommate from training & “wifey”, called me to tell me she found us a crash pad!
“Is it nice?” I asked“Oh it’s a beautiful home! Nice lady runs it too. 5 minutes from the airport! $300 a month. You know I wouldn’t do you wrong wifey!” she told me
So I went to the house as soon as I was in Fort Lauderdale. It was ran by an older lady who’s daughter worked for an airline & apparently told her she could make bank running a crash pad for flight attendants so she’d done tons of work to her home to house plenty of people. I was the 3rd person to move in. Eventually there would be 10 of us but it was okay because 8 of us had just graduated training together & were already friends! I went that day & took out $600 – my $300 deposit and my $300 first month’s payment. It WAS a nice home! Completely remodeled & even had a hot tub we were allowed to use. The lady who ran it was very sweet, albeit a bit odd. I’ve always thought maybe she expected more of a camaraderie out of us with her instead of a “hey we’re tired, we’ve been working, please leave us alone to eat, shower, sleep, etc” I definitely think she expected friendship and that wasn’t what she was going to get out of a bunch of 20 & early 30 year olds.
Anyways, after paying her & securing my bunk (yes, bunk) I went to Walmart and bought a cheap set of sheets, a twin sized bed-in-a-bag set, & some groceries for my little shelf in the fridge. This would be my new home away from home along with countless layover hotels. More and more of the girls started to move in. Luckily I had my car with me so anytime it felt a bit crowded I’d venture off somewhere! A girl likes her space ya know.
However, I did love spending time with my roommates. I loved getting in early from trips & seeing who was currently at the house – we’d load up & go to the beach. It didn’t matter which one! Fort Lauderdale beach had the best bars & restaurants, Dania had the Quarterdeck, and Hollywood was just nice. We would stop by Publix & grab Pub subs & fruit bowls from the deli and have beach picnics. The crash pad owner hosted Thanksgiving for us that year & we each made something for dinner. We invited our friends from another crash pad to come over & they brought stuff too & as cheesy as it may sound, it genuinely did feel like being with family! Afterwards, my friend Amber & I even went Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping at Sawgrass Mills. My friend (& the person who slept in the bunk above me) Angeles & I wanted to start using our flight benefits so we decided one day when we were off to wake up early & fly to New Orleans just to have lunch & fly back that evening so that’s exactly what we did! Actually, we had went out the night before & ended up oversleeping & had to take a different flight to NOLA but we still made it work. We still got our precious hand grenades & beignets! My good friend Lindsey & I both got in from a trip early on New Year’s Eve so we decided to Uber to Miami. We started in Wynwood & ended up at a Pitbull concert. I could give a rat’s ass about Pitbull but it was fun & free! I look back now KNOWING it was a damn good time but I’m also like “we didn’t get in til 4 AM & both of us had trips that day!” Something my old ass could certainly not pull off nowadays. I am permanently exhausted.
A few months into crash pad living, I had 2 “moveable” days off. I wasn’t in the mood to drive all the way up to Daytona for only 2 days but I also wasn’t in the mood to stay at the crash pad so I looked on an app that lists discounted hotels for airline crew & found a Wyndham in Boca that was close to Boca Town Center. It was discounted pretty cheaply so I booked myself a room & was going to make a little getaway of it. I love Boca’s mall so I thought I’d shop, hang by the hotel pool, and relax in the quiet. That’s exactly what I did…but something big was in the works. Like, out there in the universe.
I was on dating apps, like every other single person in the world. However, I was over it. I’d been casually dating (but overall enjoying) a guy for about 3 months who up and ghosted me & I was pissed off about it. I’d also made at least 2 poor life decisions after him & just thought I should take a little break so I wasn’t active on the app. However, my little weekend away in Boca threw me in the search radius for that area and the day I returned to the crash pad, I was hanging out with one of the roomies and I got a Snapchat follow. Ah yes, my social media handles were listed on my Tinder profile so I got random adds and follows all the time. Oh well, homie’s probably a freak and I’ll block him. Then came a message. I was all set for it to be like “let’s fuck” (sorry parents) or an unsolicited dick pic but instead it was this :
“This may be a long shot but I’d like to get to know you”
Okay. Not creepy. I was also drinking these little sangria pouches that clearly altered my thinking so I replied :
“Alright. Get to know me then”
NOT KNOWING A DAMN THING ABOUT THIS MAN. I didn’t even know his first name (his Snapchat name was…wait for it…”NIGHTMARE”!!!) or what he looked like (he sent me a selfie shortly after that) but yep…”get to know me then”
We talked all day. Literally all day. He asked if I wanted to meet him for a drink that night & I said no. He kept asking…finally, I had just tell him “my bra is off for the night & I’ve been drinkin’ all day so, no. I’m not meeting up with you tonight” – he got the point! We went on our first date 4 days later. My roommates did my makeup for the date & when I almost bailed on him because I was convinced he’d be disappointed when he met me, one of them sat me down and convinced me not to. He owes our relationship to her not once, but twice. He took me to Rustic Inn in Fort Lauderdale for some bomb crab. I didn’t know how to crack crab so he taught me & didn’t make me feel stupid. I had butter and crab juice running down both arms and was wearing a plastic bib so there were no pretenses from the start – look bud, I’m a mess, if you date me this is what you get. We had such a good time at dinner that we wanted to keep the date going & so we went to the beach. It was the perfect first date.
4 months later, he asked me to move in with him. Once again, not sure what I was thinking but I said yes. I do not make such serious decisions like that! One of his best friends from Indiana was moving down to Florida and we were all going to be living together. They brought me in as a way to get me out of the crash pad which was becoming a hell hole daily & I continued to pay them my $300 in a way to help with the rent. We found a gorgeous luxury apartment in a fantastic part of Boca, right on the Delray line & only about 2-3 miles from the beach. It was gorgeous & looked like a resort & everything should have been perfect. But it wasn’t. It was shit. Everything went to shit.
But I’m not here to talk about the shit. I’m here to talk about going to our beach at midnight when the moon was full & so bright that even in the dark you could see clear through the water. Riding motorcycles up and down A1A – all the way up to Palm Beach & down to Lauderdale. Riding by the gorgeous, insanely expensive homes that dot A1A. Hanging by our pool & seeing the giant iguanas crawling up the palm trees & just kinda co-existing with our weird little tropical neighbors. Boca made me feel bougie. It was too rich for me. Too rich and too damn yankee! We 3 were way too broke to be Boca Bitches. But it was nice at the time, for a time.
My time in SoFlo was coming to a close. My airline announced -finally- that they would be making Orlando a base & would be accepting transfers so I put in a request to go. I was approved a few days later. I was going home. It was one of my best decisions, north and central Florida just feels more like home to me. The remainder of my time in Laudy was spent at the Red Carpet Inn with my Karren. She’d left her crash pad many moons ago in favor of just spending a night or 2 at a hotel that offered a crew discount until crew scheduling assigned her a trip (the joys of being on reserve) & of course, I’d left my relationship & an expensive apartment. Believe me, the peace & quiet alone was worth it. The Red Carpet was 2 star at best but they treated us very 4 star! Darron at the front desk was always so good to us. We would split the cost of a room if we were both in town & if not, we’d be on our own. Karren introduced me to some of my favorite Lauderdale restaurants during this time – Pirates Republic, Padrinos, and The Field. We’d shop, eat, drink wine, & she’d listen to me go on and on about Clinton. It’s 2022 & I be doin’ the same exact shit only less sad. She’s a good egg, my Karren.
I could never live there again…too much happened. Also, I’m poor. And driving in that area takes a special kind of bravery that I don’t have. Also, don’t forget the constant swamp ass you’ll have because it’s so hot all the time. It simply wasn’t for me & that’s fine. But I’ll always be grateful for that area for gifting me my friends, the love of my life, my job, & my love for Cuban food.
*I would have loved to have shared more photos from the crash pad days but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing old friend’s photos on my blog without their permission (some have since left the airline & I do not have their contact information to ask)