I’m not much of a rules-follower. I prefer to live life by my own set of instructions and work at my own pace (usually a fast pace without reading any directions). In high school (I went to boarding school for 3 years), I dated the director of my dorm. It was a major breach in the code of ethics but I couldn’t help it. It was adventurous, I was in love and I was determined to get what I want. To make everything even more scandalous (in my parents eyes, anyway), my dorm director was a girl! (And yes, we’re still together 7 years later). In college, prerequisites were merely someone’s suggestions as to how to spend my money and credits, and I would acknowledge those suggestions and then quickly ignore them. Who has time to take math classes they don’t need? While everyone was thinking about summer internships, I decided it’d be fun to work for the Parks & Rec., usually cleaning up garbage and poop from the public restroom. So it’s no surprise (to me, anyway), that after graduating from a great university, while everyone else I knew was applying to med school or getting accepted into graduate school (and planning on actually using their undergraduate degrees), that I decided to plan a trip around the world with my best friend and partner. I get my jollies out of living life unconventionally.
My girlfriend September (yes, that’s her real name), and I don’t like to be held down. We tend to move apartments every year, change jobs often and if something big and crazy comes along, we’re usually game. I think of myself as adaptable, pretty willing to try new things (unless it’s weird food) and that nothing is permanent… so who’s up for an adventure?!
Our most recent adventure involved purchasing a shaved ice business on the Gulf side of Florida (in Treasure Island, about 10 minutes from St. Petersburg) with 2 other members of September’s family. Our lease in Michigan was about to expire and we were hesitant to renew. Ironically, I had quit my job at Home Depot about 4 weeks earlier and September was looking to leave her (very stable) job at a state university. The possibility of owning this shaved ice beach business couldn’t have come at a better time in our lives. Within a week, the family had purchased the business and settled on a closing date. Sep and I eagerly volunteered for the adventure of running the stand full time, thus packing up our lives, selling our stuff and making the 20-hour drive to our new home in Florida. We had absolutely no idea what we were doing or what we were getting into. It was the middle of the summer (the peak season for shaved ice in Florida) and we had never run a brick-and-mortar business before (we have an online business selling survival bracelets but that’s a different story). Sure, Sep has a MBA but she never planned on actually using it! And I have a degree in kinesiology, so my training would be worthless.
The first weeks were awful. We were more stressed than we had ever been in our lives and we often cried before bed. We worked 15-hour days, 7 days a week, with no end in sight. We kept reminding ourselves that this was an adventure (as I tattooed on my right foot a week before we moved – another thing my parents told me not to do) and we embrace the unknown. Then, after a month or so, we started to get the hang of new lives. It’s hard to complain about life when you work across from the Gulf of Mexico, when you can watch the sunset every night or have citrus trees growing right in your own yard with built in breakfast. Besides, I remind September, we’re really close to Cuba now… and while it’s illegal for Americans to go there, I really think we should try to find a way.