“Life [is] like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get!” – Forest Gump
I was ready for something different: fresh air, a change of scenery, new opportunities, an opportunity to grow. Yep! I asked for it. I focused. I put feelers and resumes and cover letters out there in cyberspace. I whispered my wishes into the veins of the ethers.
Yep, I asked for it; I got it!
Forrest Gump’s infamous quote is my mantra these days. I had no idea what I was getting when moving to a new place or new experience. We have an idea of what it will be like, but there is so much that we cannot even remotely conceive (no matter how much research we’ve done or how smart we think we are). You just end up with new flavors and gooey centers that you just didn’t know were in the box.
The opportunity arrived. We journeyed to Florida. I had no idea that I was actually moving to Jurassic Park.
Our very first night in our new apartment, our house warming party was a merry band of raccoons that raided the garbage dumpster just a few feet away from our car in the parking lot. I had no idea how organized and savvy they were. One stood as look out on two feet atop the dumpster while his buddies rummaged through the contents. Another stood upright with arms stretched to receive the bounty on ground level. It was like watching a cartoon without the animation from our apartment window.
And then there are the insect and reptilian neighbors that scamper across the pavement as we pass or just stand there and watch as I walk pass. I am talking 2-3 inch speckled locusts that eat everything in sight and sip pesticides as cocktails. A colleague of mine explained that he literally has to smash to keep them from devouring his garden because nothing else works.
The geckos have made it clear to me that they are the ones who really run the place. They are everywhere on the trees, in the grass, on the windows, upside the buildings. They watch you like they dare you to say something and questions their presence. I have even seen a vulture fly pass while walking my ten year old home from the pool. Yes, a VULTURE, it was just that clear and close.
While watching the local news, I have witnessed horror stories poisonous snakes biting neighborhood children, alligators devouring dogs on a leash, and bears raiding neighborhood garbage cans. Who knew Florida had black bears? WHAT?
And oh, I saw an opossum stand on two feet in broad daylight right down the street from a group of children at a bus stop. He did not even budge as my car road past. All he needed was a backpack to catch the bus with the rest of the children. I mean, what is this? I am used to seeing them as road kill or scampering off into the bushes at night!
Then there are the wonders: the eagles waltzing on the breeze, the exotic flowers, aromatic blossoms and lilting palm trees, the loyal sunshine playing peekaboo amidst rolling clouds, and the rainstorms that disappear as quickly as they suddenly arrive.
This Jurassic Park is my box of chocolates with as many discomforts and terrors as marvels and wonders. I didn’t plan on all of this. I am not the camping, outdoor, nature girl type at all. I don’t do bugs and animals. I prefer to watch them on PBS or flip them on pages in National Geographic. I didn’t ask for this.
But then again…
I asked for a chance to grow, and growth rarely nestles in our comfort zones. It pushes us out of them and flings us into new territory. We can then choose to fear and fall or breathe and fly.
While gazing at the fabulous flora around me, I am watching my new animal friends closely, especially those birds. I am choosing to breathe, fly and savor my chocolates…