Diary of Those Tampa Bay Days: Part 1, “The Job”

Feelings for Tampa Bay have been growing stronger every day – at least in the morning. As I said before, by the end of the day, I’m exhausted and can’t imagine disrupting our lives here, especially because we fought so hard to get back to the house we still owned in Las Vegas. But it was all about our house and we really do want to sell it and move on – but where to move on to?

Lately, I’ve had the desire to blog the journey but I already did that. One part of that was an overview of the Tampa Bay years – check out the first Tampa Bay post here, as part of “The Journey.” I love that we’ve shared this journey together but, truly, the best part was the Orlando to Tampa Bay leg. So I thought I’d revisit that time and add some of the details.

When I think of Florida now, I think of Tampa Bay. After all, it’s on the West Coast – the West Coast of Florida. My head feels right being there. The sets on the Gulf in the west – the way it’s supposed to. 🙂

But Orlando – it’s “Inlando” – closer to the East Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. That just doesn’t feel right for a California girl.

When we landed in Orlando in September 2003 without a job, I was so disappointed the job opportunity was in Tampa. I couldn’t wrap my head around Tampa. What did I know about it? I’d visited Tampa as part of my first trip to Florida, my first cruise, my first trip to WDW in 1982, for the opening of Epcot. That’s all I knew, although Rich seemed quite knowledgeable about the whole Tampa Bay area. He seemed to be leaning toward Tampa – not Orlando.

Before Rich accepted the job, a recruiter called him for an interview with an Orlando company. Rich turned it down – he wanted the job in Tampa and he had an offer in hand. It was too risky to wait to see what would happen in Orlando. Rich and I are soulmates, and there are only 2 times I’ve been disappointed with a decision Rich has made. This was one of them. Who knew it would turn out to be one of my biggest blessings?

This morning I was recalling the day Rich and I drove to Tampa from Orlando for the interview. The job was with a software company located on Busch Blvd. in Tampa. It was a low-rise building, our preference from our favorite companies we’d worked for in Silicon Valley. It usually offers a more relaxed work atmosphere.

We parked the SportTrak under the trees and I hung out while Rich went inside to interview. I remember driving down Busch looking for lunch and I ended up at Burger King. I had lunch and then drove back and waited. Somewhere along the way, somebody’s car was broken into and the cops were there. Hmmm…. was kind of a sign was that? lol!

I can still feel the excitement of that day and the trees and the overall super-excited feeling. It really felt like home and I was surprised because I’d thought that only Orlando could be home with its California Disney connection.

Rich came out of the interview feeling very positive about it. Later, he had to return to meet the team but then the offer came in and he accepted. They even paid to relocate us from Orlando. We’d only been in Orlando for 7 weeks but we knew it might be temporary and didn’t completely unpack in case we had to move to a different part of Florida for a job.

Somewhere along the way, I was also called for a job in Tampa. I interviewed in Clearwater while Rich hung around but I didn’t get the job. Instead, I began writing my second and third novels.

Rich found an excellent mover and we finished packing up the things we’d unpacked. We’d bought a new loveseat in Orlando to replace a couple of chairs we’d brought all the way from Oregon. With the truck loaded, we turned in the apartment keys and the cats and began the drive to Tampa. We thought we’d stop for lunch along the way. Unfortunately, Buddy, well, how can I say this? Well, he couldn’t hold it and there was no way to clean him up until we arrived. So we weren’t about to stop for lunch.

Poor Rich – he had to clean up Buddy as soon as we got the keys to the Palm Harbor apartment in Tampa Bay. We were able to transfer our rental contract because they were with the same company. I don’t remember now if I ran off to get us some lunch or if we waited until the movers had unloaded the truck.

In that same post, we talk about the apartment with a photo of it. It really was a nice little townhouse. We kept saying, “Wow! We would have been thrilled if we could have lived in something like this in the SF Bay Area.” What I liked about it was the downstairs den where I set up my computer and wrote my second novel, “Lies! Camera! Action!” I’m thinking I should get it out again and rewrite it/edit it and prepare it for publication.

Agents loved the opening chapter and my most recent song was “Everybody Lies.” I’m starting to see a pattern with writing a song that matches a novel I’ve written. For example, my third novel was “Real Women Wear Red” and one of my first songs was “Candy Apple Red (Shoes).”

It’s so fun for us to recall those exciting days of Tampa Bay now. Moving to a new state without a job is something I wouldn’t do now. As you get older, it’s harder to compete for those same jobs. But back then, we were young enough to pull it off. We also realize our days of pulling it off even with a job are growing shorter so if we’re going to make a move, we need to make it soon.

About Kathy

Novelist & Music Producer