Last week, I had the occasion of being in Orlando for a big technology conference. The timing was fortuitous. I am also in the process of putting my Audubon Park house on the market. This gave me the excuse to combine business with…well, personal business. I went by the old girl on Virginia Drive to clean out what I had left and turn it into the hands of my very capable broker.
I bought the house in 2003 and expanded shortly after. If I had sold the resulting three bedroom, two bath house when I moved to NYC in 2007, I would have made an almost 100% return on my investment. Nineteen months later, I was upside down on my mortgage.
I shouldn’t have kept it of course, but I did. And the reasons I did were emotional, not financial. I was making the biggest leap of my life at 42 years old. Would I last in New York? I had originally put a five-year fence around my time here. I honestly didn’t project any further than that. I was pretty sure that the move was more experimental than plate shifting. So the yellow art deco a block from Baldwin Park become one giant safety net.
I held onto it, also believing in the original proposition that such an interesting house, in such a good and central part of town with just enough gay spray, would eventually be able to make me some money. I had put so much of my heart and soul in it, not to mention blood, sweat and most definitely tears. After a string of bad contractors, I essentially did much of the expansion work myself, with the help of some friends and family, most notably my remarkably crafty and hard-working brother-in-law, Jim Finch. It’s the worst possible thing you can do: get emotionally attached to an investment.
Now I must put it on the market, as Phil and I have experienced the dream of every Manhattan apartment owner. The apartment next door went up for sale and we’ve purchased it and are creating one big apartment. Exciting. Scary. Expensive.
As I put it on the market, I’ll “roughly” break even. I know the audience for this publication has little sympathy for me, and I know I’m among the lucky ones. I got only a glancing blow from the real estate crash of 2009.
While it’s not quite out of my hands (and off my books) just yet, it is in my head. With it, my final physical connection to Orlando—where I was born and spent most of my adult life—seems broken. When I think about my life in Orlando from birth to 42—particularly those years I spent in that house—Watermark is such a defining part of it. I’ve written recently, upon the occasion of the paper’s 20th anniversary, about what it has meant to me. I won’t repeat myself other than to say: a lot.
At this crossroads for both Watermark and me, perhaps it’s time for me to step away from my work with Watermark. After covering the Central Florida gay community for 10-plus years before I left, I can’t rightfully lay claim to knowing it now. A publication like Watermark needs informed local content.
The other part of this decision is much more personal. I’ve been writing a first person editorial column for more than 15 years now. I’ve been given free rein by a series of generous editors (and a publisher) to write what was in my heart. And my head. And my craw. As a result, I’m not sure what much else I have to say. I might change my mind tomorrow, but I’ve been allowed to grind an axe and support a cause and put myself out there time and time again. It’s a valuable and perishable space. It’s time someone with a fresh point of view takes it on.
I’ve gotten the chance to live out at least a moonlighting life as a journalist without having to take the requisite leap that the bravest journalists do. I’m not going to stop writing, of course, but at this point in my life, with an increasingly demanding career, it’s time for me to cede the floor to another voice and another generation.
Thanks for reading!