My Super-Sunny New City
Greetings Letters Readers—Robby from Fort Lauderdale here, saying “hi!” I know it’s been a hot minute since my last reports from the sunshine state, after my big move from Brooklyn a few months ago, so—time for an update.
I would love to tell you all that my self-imposed writing hiatus has been due to me living my best life here in Fort Lauderdale—meeting people, making friends, and all around crushing it here in my new home. However, sadly, it’s actually quite the opposite.
Suffice it to say, it has been a rough beginning to my next chapter. Just to list a few examples: a start-up organization I was spearheading down here fell apart within the first weeks—the Board in NYC was not on-board with the changes (pun very much intended). Also, making friends in your late-ish 40s is not easy; there were some housing issues; and then—there’s the heat.
Everyone tells you making friends gets harder as you get older. It’s even harder when you are trying in a new city. People say Fort Lauderdale is different—and you say to yourself, “how different can it be?” Trust them and me—it’s different. It’s hard to put it into words—even for a writer—but it’s just different.
My good friend, Chad, spelled it out for me pretty succinctly: “It’s very clique-y. You have to know someone to get invited anywhere, and people are reluctant about introducing a stranger to their crew because there are a lot of shady people around these days. They don’t call it ‘a sunny place for shady people’ for nothing.”
As a non-shady person, I sort of understand. As a transplant from NYC looking to make friends, it sucks.
Moving here in the middle of July, in the hottest summer on record, just might have been a huge misstep. My inspired thought was that I would get here and be all settled before snowbird season started.
However, it turns out that a large (very large) portion of queers in Fort Lauderdale pick up and leave for the summer and are hence reverse snowbirds themselves. Two of my very good friends did this migration. Luckily, they are both headed back as I write this.
One positive step forward! Because, let’s face it, having even one person to go out with makes a huge difference.
People here seem to be very wary of other people in a bar or club all by themselves. Like, “why don’t you have friends to go out with?” I get it, to a degree. And even the times I did go out alone and found people to talk to and have a drink and a laugh with, following up with, “this was fun why don’t we hang out again?” usually landed as flat as the Florida topography.
Another misstep of mine was thinking that moving here in July, I could find cheaper housing. That whole wanting-to-get-settled took a nosedive when two housing situations fell apart at the last minute. First, I was in a friend’s spare room for a month (thank you, Adam) before finding a temporary situation, which was really nice but…it ends this month.
BUT another positive step forward: one of those two snowbird friends who is moving back set me up with another transplant friend of his from California who is also looking for housing. Looking for a two-bedroom apartment instead of looking to move into an already established situation makes a world of difference. We have seven places to look at—all within my budget—this week alone. #halleloo
I would love to say in the time I have been here I have tackled DIY projects, taken a cooking class, and gotten into peak physical shape. But I can’t. Instead, to be honest with you, I fell back into old habits: Sleeping late, taking edibles, eating too much candy, watching YouTube videos, reading, and Zooming with friends in other cities. I burrowed instead of metamorphosing.
But—the season is starting here. The winds of change are here. Or, a hurricane is barreling down on us. It’s one or the other.
My burrowing period is over. Sure, I missed the cornhole league registration by one week when I moved here. But kickball starts here tomorrow, and I am ready to go. I have also signed up to volunteer at a food bank and am awaiting clearance for my first shift. I joined a new gym—and have been there daily for a week! I feel like my social calendar was busier the first weeks of October than it had been the entire prior three months. Onward and upward!
I have heard numerous times that here in Fort Lauderdale, it takes at least a year to get settled and find your groove—maybe longer. So, as I start another trip around the sun (birthday was October 12), that means I have only nine months to go. Wish me luck! ▼
Robert Dominic is a freelance writer/blogger who recently moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is proud to be one small blue dot in a very red state. He writes for numerous publications including Instinct magazine and his own blog, “The Gays of our Lives” (gaysofourlives.net).