How To Transition Out of a Long-Distance Relationship -or- How I Became a Snowbird

It was a strange coincidence when I met Alex.  Both of us were in the same situation: Aspiring writers, working uncreative jobs to make ends meet, all the while thinking about how we were slowly handing over the days of our youth in the name of responsibility.  We would much rather spend these days writing.

I was therefore envious when I learned that Alex was moving on to greener pastures.  He made a decision, and quickly moved out of state to pursue a new life with his girlfriend 1300 miles away.  The path he’s chosen is not unlike the leap of faith I once took, and I remember that first year as the best time of my life.

I spent each day doing what I wanted to do — not what someone else wanted me to do.  I read a lot. I wrote a lot. I wrote into the wee hours of the morning on nights when inspiration struck, and then slept in until my body told me it was time to get up.  I caught up on all the classic movies I had never seen.  I treated my local public library as my office, and had the most creative, inventive, and enjoyable year of my life.

Although I’m admittedly envious of the life adventure Alex is starting, I can’t help but feel happy for him.  I’m glad he’s living consciously, and is able to recognize what he wants in life.  He’s following through with his plan to reinvent himself, and it’s already affecting his creative output.

Alex sent me the following piece about the story behind his recent transition.  Please give it a read and share your feedback in the comments!

How To Transition Out of a Long-Distance Relationship –or– How I Became a Snowbird
by Alexander Moschina

Five minutes ago I was on my hands and knees, vacuuming splintered pieces of Choco-Raspberry Crisps up off the kitchen floor. I had just gotten back from a run, and midway through disrobing, in a fit of ravenous hunger, I made a beeline for the pantry and grabbed the first thing I saw. (In retrospect, I could think of a dozen tastier, more sensible options, but I had worked the cereal I ate this morning out of my system, and pretty much everything looked good.) Unfortunately, in my momentary excitement, I lost my grip on the package, and out tumbled roughly half of its contents, which promptly shattered on the linoleum.

As I begrudgingly cleaned up my mess, using the end of a long tubular vacuum attachment to break sticky chunks loose from various crevices, I was able to step outside of myself and take in the scene. There he was: Alex, nearing 26-years-old, unemployed for the first time since his freshman year of college; Alex, in his boxers, trying to conceal his candy shame while two big-eyed cats look on in bewilderment. What a guy.

But how did we get here?

At the beginning of this year, I officially gave my three-week notice to my former employer. The reason: I was moving to West Palm Beach, Florida. Not for the sun or the ocean, or easy access to Pollo Tropical Chicken on the Grill (though for the record, I do feel good about having one on either end of my street), but for a girl. Let’s call her “Becca.” We’ll call her that because it’s her name. Though really, this story begins eight months earlier.

One night after work, at the end of May, last year, I got into a Mazda 6 in Warren, Michigan with two of my friends, some bulky luggage, a whole mess of energy drinks, and one stupid pompadour hat. Port of Miami was our destination, where we would board the Carnival Destiny for a four-night cruise. Not having done the drive from Michigan to southern Florida before, I was excited for the road trip (admittedly the ride down was fun, but let me tell you, the view from the other direction is far less inviting).

We arrived in Miami in the late morning, boarded the ship with relative ease (barring some confusion as to how one classily tips a baggage attendant), and were sipping cocktails on deck by early afternoon. “Not too shabby,” we thought as we watched Miami slip away from us, making small talk with some drunken Canadians sitting on the beach chairs in front of us.

Dinner found my friends and me alone at a table in the very back of the ship’s dining room, next to the kitchen. A man dressed as a pirate went from table to table, taking pictures with guests. In the moment, this seemed completely ordinary. Then two girls approached, and seated themselves to my right. They were from Philadelphia, in their mid-20s, the same as us, and this was to have been one’s honeymoon, had the wedding not been called off. More small talk was made, and once drinks and first courses were ordered, it seemed that it would only be the five of us occupying the table.

But then she arrived.

Becca appeared at the back of one of the empty chairs, wearing a purple dress, with a white cardigan over her shoulders. Her friend, Natalie stood beside her. The two introduced themselves and took two of the empty seats. She and I were seated directly across from each other, with no less than five feet of wood and tablecloth, plates, glasses, cutlery, a centerpiece and a bottle of wine between us.

Talking to her directly was nearly impossible, but we managed to make awkward eye contact through the meal as everyone chatted about what they do, and more importantly, what they are doing in the middle of the ocean on a Thursday night. It was lucky for me that everyone got along so well, because the group decided to stay together after dinner, and take in some of the Destiny’s nightlife.

Riesling led to dancing, and ultimately to karaoke. How romance was able to bloom after I performed Prince for her is beyond me, but nonetheless, it did not take long before we were both smitten. We stayed up that night, and each night that followed, after everyone else had gone off to bed (or on to other clubs), and walked the ship and talked. She made funny jabs about my digital camera looking as if it were the first ever made, and I made myself vulnerable to her by sharing, repeatedly, my concern that the ship could at any moment capsize, leaving us stranded in shark-infested waters. It was a match.

By the end of the trip, we were both quite confused as to how we should proceed. She was from West Palm Beach; I was from Farmington Hills. Not to mention that typically Michiganders don’t move down to Florida until after they retire, and even then it’s to a senior community near Disney World. But, after our last walking tour of the ship she gave me her address, and I promised to write. The story could have very well ended there.

Of course, it didn’t. After a straight 23 hours of driving north through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, I arrived home, bought a book of stamps, wrote a barely coherent letter on some notebook paper, sealed it in an envelope, drove to the mailbox in the Little Caesar’s parking lot, mailed it, returned to my apartment, and promptly passed out. When I awoke I barely had any recollection of doing this, but I had the book of stamps with one missing to prove it.

A week later she wrote me back. Naturally writing turned into calling, and phone calls turned into monthly plane trips, and after a few thousand dollars’ worth of those, we had to talk about what we were doing. Regarding who was to be displaced, we looked at it from a multitude of angles, and ultimately it came down to finances. That led us to saying cheers with champagne flutes containing a mix of cranberry juice and Andre Spumante on New Year’s Eve as I printed the letter containing my notice.

I drove her to the airport one last time, but for once there were no tears as we said goodbye. This time there were just big-toothed grins, and a new sense of direction. When I left work, it was with the knowledge that that was one less day between chapter one and chapter two of our story. Also, it meant that I could return some of the phone calls I received during the business day from various moving companies competing for my business. (It’s worth noting, as well, that after filling out the form at, requesting a free quote, I am STILL receiving the occasional “Hi, I’m from x moving company, calling about your upcoming move…” Mind you, I moved two weeks ago.)

My apartment complex didn’t really care what I did, as long as I was out of my place by the end of January. In fact, the only real communication I had from them after submitting my 30-day notice was that if I wanted I could stay in the same unit another year for only $50 extra a month, plus some new “trash fee.” As enticing as this was, I went ahead with the move, making sure to spackle-up the holes I’d made in the walls with some Extra-Whitening Crest before I left.

With a 5 x 8 trailer attached to my Dodge Avenger, and a very confused-looking kitty in the backseat, Becca and I headed south, straight into a blizzard that was sweeping across the Virginias and Carolinas. Twice when we stopped for gas, we had to be towed uphill by kind strangers with four-wheel-drive vehicles and some heavy-duty-looking chains, and at one point I was blinded by a passing snow plow that simply covered my windshield with brown slush, but we made it.

And here we are.

She could have been from anywhere; Rhode Island, Texas, Vietnam (though I may have been thrown by the accents), and that’s where I would be now. Not that it was an easy decision to make. I mean, my entire family, and a good 95% of my friends are in Michigan, plus I only recently discovered the value of Meijer brand yogurt (8oz for the same price of the national brand’s 6oz cups, with a far superior taste in my opinion).

In the end, I had to ask myself if she was worth moving the 1,300 miles away from everything I’ve known. I had to ask if she was worth choking down Publix brand yogurt. Then I had to scold myself for asking such dumb questions (and once more for that pompadour hat). She was worth it, and more importantly, she and I were worth it. Now to put on some pants and find a job.

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6 Responses to “How To Transition Out of a Long-Distance Relationship -or- How I Became a Snowbird”

#1 Jeff on 16, Feb, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I’m glad someone else misses Meijer brand yogurt.

#2 Adrienne on 17, Feb, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I am proud that you made this leap, Alex. Becca seems like a swell gal and I know that your life in WPB will blossom.

#3 Samantha on 24, Feb, 2010 at 1:45 am

This is absolutely beautiful. I’m a young writer going to school in Chicago and it is so refreshing to hear the story of a writer like yourself, only a few years older than me, doing so well! Alex, Shaun is right, your writing is quite beautiful and inspired. Good luck to all three of you; Shaun, Alex, and Becca! Keep it real!

#4 Molly on 25, Feb, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Yay, Big Al!

#5 Heaven on 17, Apr, 2010 at 10:25 pm

This post really hit me in the heart region. I happen to live in West Palm, and I’m in a long distance relationship (my boyfriend is in Norway). He’s visited me three times, soon to be four this summer. Our plan is to move him here. 🙂 Now I’ve got the warm fuzzies.

#6 Dominic on 01, Jun, 2011 at 5:39 am

This is strange.

The entire reason I am on this site is because I found your “How To Move Out Of State” article. I was just looking for some tips, but now I’ve read over 20 posts so far, and just happen to come across this one.

This probably the biggest coincidence ever, but I was almost in his EXACT same situation which led me to this site in the first place. Well, 80% of it I’d say:

1. I live in Northwest Indiana, not even 30 mins from the Michigan border.
2. I want to move to Florida (the reason I found this blog to begin with)
3. I decided I wanted to move after going on a cruise, 7 night Royal Caribbean though. I realized felt more at home in Florida than when I got back to my apartment.
4. I met a girl on the cruise which I made a connection with, but she happens to be one of the drunken Canadians in Alex’s story 😛

The only difference between Alex and me is that I’m not moving to be with the girl I met. Unfortunately she’s in a serious relationship and lives in Newfoundland, Canada. We still keep in touch and are remaining friends though, so you never know 😛

I’m moving because I need a Life Reboot and I figured, why reboot it somewhere you don’t even want to live? I’ll miss my friends but we can always visit each other.

Most would say my job as a FOREX Trader on the 86th floor of the Sears Tower is pretty unreal for only being 21. But I’m just not happy at all here. I’ve gotten a few raises at this job, but it only lasts me a few months until I become unsatisfied again. I’d much rather get paid less doing what I enjoy, and I know you are someone that can appreciate that.

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