I have traveled quite a bit, especially since my surf genre artwork has gotten attention over the past six or so years. I've nurtured friendships with pockets of really wonderful people in various parts of the world and have seen how other places live. It's really lit a fire under my ass about where I want to have my home base.
I've long dreamed about living in a place that was more ‘me'. I remember in my early twenties ordering travel brochures for Florida and California and fantasize about escaping to far off lands like Australia and starting over. But I never could reconcile my mixed emotions of being away from my family and close friends and my desire to try something new. Plus dealing with some family challenges, break ups, debt and starting and juggling businesses just pushed it all to the back of my priority list. So the years past and I resigned myself to just visiting other places and dealing with the cold, gray months of living in New Jersey in between summer time.
Don't get me wrong, I will always love my home state. New Jersey sure gets a bad rap from people since reality shows became the public facade of New Jersey. But truth be told, it really is a nice place filled with beaches, culture,cities, farmland, mountains and lots to do. I am proud to have been raised there. It made me who I am, gave me some hustle in my blood and drove me to achieve.
That being said, Chelsea and I were done with just settling for the hostility, bad weather and commotion surrounding us. There's only so long you can hear yourself complain before you need to do something about it. We're ‘beach people' who thrive in sunshine and we needed a more inspiring place to call home.
The ‘problem' arose though, since both of us work for ourselves, we can literally move anywhere with our careers. Sometimes having too many options is indeed a real challenge. The idea of going to Hawaii or California really appealed to us both, it still does. But I have a lot going on with my family and I didn't want to be too far from them. Plus the cost of living in those other places is outrageous. So Florida became an obvious choice. We spent the winter in St. Augustine last year and really fell in love with this little nook of the state.
To make a long story short, after a couple years of trying to sell our homes, we decided to rent them out. We found a great home a few houses in from the ocean in an amazing beach town near Jacksonville and moved here at the beginning of August. We have a group of solid friends here already that we love who have made the transition so much easier. I'll spare you the details of our stresses of moving, but what matters is that we're here and loving every minute of it.
We have lucked out with lots of rideable swell and have been surfing almost every day with Dolphins in 83 degree water. My new studio overlooks palm and fruit trees with tweeting birds providing the soundtrack. Our deck has had tree frogs and lizards welcoming us to the neighborhood and the daily 5 minute rain showers quenches the thirst of the tropical plants. Our second night here we wandered onto the beach and saw baby sea turtles that just hatched crawling towards the sea. It's a big upgrade from beach badges, traffic and hearing loud motorcycles and techno music blasting from Guido driven mustangs.
We've already had a bunch of house guests and are looking forward to sharing this inspiring place with our family and friends. It's exciting to have a chance to contribute to the art and surfing community here and explore the surround area.
PS: Lastly, thank you so so so so much to my friends who helped us move from NJ to FL. I was emotionally overwhelmed with love knowing what great friends you all are. You have inspired me to try even harder at expressing my friendship towards you and others. Thank you John H., Brian,John S., Mike, Zack,Regan, Eric,Craig,Swindall & Luke.