So, let’s talk about the past week.
My wonderful family have put their holiday relaxation on hold to help me get everything I need to get started over here. One of the most important purchases was a car. It is a well known fact that life in the USA is tough without one but life in Miami without one is practically impossible. We had five days to find a second hand car that wasn’t going to be a death trap.
Americans are big fans of driving so finding a car with less than 80,000 miles was a comical aim. Mum and Ian had done a little hunting while I was in Baton Rouge and every used car they had found was in bad condition and more than we were willing to spend. We went to a few places but nothing was quite right. On Wednesday night the most likely possibility was a Toyota Corolla with over 100,000 miles on the clock, dodgy air-conditioning buttons and a previous accident which had replaced the front bumper. I dreamed of cars that night and woke up seriously stressed.
On Thursday we found a cluster of dealerships on Google maps so we drove over and aimed to have a car by the end of the day. On the way we saw a Honda dealership and just on a whim pulled in to see what kind of prices they had. I walked straight in and announced to the salesman at the door, “I want your cheapest car!” He laughed and introduced us to Albert who clearly thought we were living in a dream world but humoured us long enough to find two cars in their lot that were within our price range. They were in much better condition than any of the ones we had seen over the past few days and had all been fully serviced. One of their cheapest cars was an Orange Saturn Vue XE. I saw her glinting orange in the sun across the lot, it was love at first sight. I knew she was the one. Half way through the test drive mum said, “Meg, do you want to have a go driving?” The answer was not really, but I wasn’t going to admit that I was scared and I was going to have to at some point so Ian and I swapped over. “Hold the brake and then change it into drive,” Ian told me. At this point I’m pretty sure Albert broke into a decent sweat as he realised that I had never driven automatic before.
Three and a half hours later I drove away with sexy Sofia the Saturn which was slightly terrifying since I was driving on the right side of the road, in America, in an automatic, in my own car, in a city with maniac drivers. It was absolutely fine until I went to park at my apartment, forgot I wasn’t driving manual and slammed on the brake thinking it was the clutch. Mum said it only hurt her chest a little bit. But I’m learning fast and I think I’m going to be just fine.
Other than mundane settling in things we also went down to Key Largo for my mum’s birthday and went snorkeling on the reef in the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park which was amazing. When we get the photos developed from that trip I’ll put them up here. For now, here is Francesca on the boat.
And my family experienced Chipotle for the first time. Francesca got halfway through her burrito and then quietly said to me, “My stomach hurts.” She learned that day not to under-estimate the power of Chipotle.
So after a crazy week I am officially all set up and ready to go with my new life in the States. It still feels surreal and as Jack Stevens so delicately wrote, “What the fucking fuck is this? You’re living the fucking dream.” Although I do worry that I might have peaked a little early. So let’s not jinx it or I might be a hobo in five years time. After all, there is a reason that penniless writers are a cliché. But seriously guys, this is where I live now and it’s incredible!