I used to live in a camper and moved my entire house on a weekly basis. My life was moving at all times, but I was completely at peace with the change happening all around me. My mind was always learning new stuff, meeting new people and my eyes were in heaven looking through a camera viewfinder at beautiful sights all around me…..the last 7 months……not so much.
Since we sold the motel back in September, it seems we’re constantly moving, yet going nowhere! We just seem to keep moving the same crap from a storage unit to a new place then back into a storage unit again and again. After the sale of the motel, we had to pack up 5 years worth of every day lifes collections and pile it into two 10’x20′ storage units we had rented.
We had bought another building in downtown Cedar Key right away, but couldn’t move into it till December. So rather than just sit around living in the camper waiting, we took a few weeks (it ended up being 6 weeks) and traveled around visiting some friends and family. Then back to Cedar Key to close on our new building where we plan on opening up a photography gallery/studio/bar/antique shop. Yeah, we cant seem to figure out what it’s going to be or what we’re going to call it yet either, but it’s simply registered as ‘Bonish Photo’ for the time being with the IRS and the ATF….because you cant submit paperwork without a name being on it!?!? They also look at you funny when they ask what the business is going to be and you say “A gallery!” They then ask why you’re applying for a Beer & Wine License? I simply reply “Doesn’t everyone want to drink beers and wines while looking at artwork?”
So once we closed on the building in December, we moved a bunch of our belongings into it so we could live in it while we fixed it up. This is the equivalent of living in a fish bowl. Next time you’re in your local downtown business district, look at one of the businesses that is all windows and right on the main street, then imagine living in it as your house!
There are no walls or rooms in our building, it’s basically one giant room that is 20′ wide by 70′ long. We had to get creative and hang curtains from side to side to hide our bed so when getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, those people that are walking down the sidewalk don’t call the police reporting an indecent exposure episode. There has been numerous times you look up to see a group of people with their faces plastered against the windows looking in wondering what you’re doing. Yes we’ve hung curtains on all the windows, but while walking the dogs one particular night, I pointed out that from a certain angle on the sidewalk, even with the curtains drawn, you can see our bed perfectly from the street. Like I said, it’s like living in a fish bowl.
There has been numerous times where we’ve forgotten to lock the front door only to have a group of people walk right into what would be our living room, look up at us with a very confused look on their face and ask “What is this place!?” only to have Cindy or I reply “Well right now you’re standing in my living room.” They apologize profusely saying they were just going store to store and never looked up as they pushed on the next stores fronts doors. After they leave, we usually argue with one another as to who’s fault it was that the front door was unlocked this time while we’re laughing at how embarrassed those people were.
We had both agreed we wanted to live in the building for a few months before we did anything to it so we’d get a feel for it. Rather than go out and furnish it with typical furniture only to turn it into a gallery, we’ve lived for the last 7 months with our bed, two rocking chairs and Cindy’s 70″ television hung on the wall. It makes for some interesting conversations when friends or family visit and they walk inside to see only two chairs, a giant television and a bed in such a large, empty room. But no need in going out and buying furniture when we don’t even know how we’re going to furnish the place.
Staying closed these past few months was extremely hard to do since January thru this past Easter weekend was the height of Florida’s tourist season. Day to day we’d both kick ourselves as we watched dozens of dozens of people push on the front door wondering who would be stupid enough to keep their business closed during the height of the tourist season. (That’d be us!)
It got so bad, that I went and got a job at a local bar just so I’d still have an income and I’d keep my mind busy with working behind a bar. People always seem shocked to come into the bar and see me working? I’ve been asked time and time again why I’d be back working after just selling my business? I usually just smile and reply with “Because I still need to pay the bills just like you do!”
Just because I sold one business, it does not mean I’m sitting on a pile of cash for the rest of my life. Heck, I’ve had to talk to the local banker about taking out a loan to build out the new bar since basically every dime we made from our sale was spent on the new building. Well, using the word new for a building built in the late 1800’s seems silly….it’s new to us, but the building we bought has seen many business owners over the years it’s sat here on 2nd street.
It’s been a church, a bakery, a bar, an art gallery, a grocery store and probably acted as a few other store fronts for people trying to earn a living over the years. We’re hoping to combine a few different businesses into one building in hopes when people come in to see our photography, they can sit on a bar stool, or a cool piece of furniture that Cindy has found in an Estate Sale, that also happens to be for sale, and enjoy themselves while taking a load off their feet. We figure this will keep the fixtures ever changing if they’re all for sale, it’ll keep the artwork on the walls always revolving with new work and something different to blend with the newest piece of furniture, and after a few cocktails, who wouldn’t want to take home a piece of Cedar Key to decorate their house with?
So the moving part is basically all I do anymore. Cindy finds stuff at an estate sale, we drive to pick it up and put it in storage. We move some pieces into the building, we move some pieces out. We’ve now got a feel for how the building is laid out and feel we can start building the interior out the way we want it, so this means everything we’ve moved into it, now needs to get moved back into storage so the carpenters can come do their job. And remember, all this time, I’m moving all this stuff, trailer load upon trailer load for free. I keep joking with Cindy saying that by the time she sells one piece of furniture, I’ll have moved it 5 times. If I was to charge her an hourly rate, or a per-move-rate, she’d have to charge thousands of dollars to recoup her costs. But to her, I’m free labor.
I joke that me going to work bartending for an 8 hour shift is a break for me!!
In all this moving, we’ve also realized that this building, once it’s built out as a gallery, a bar and an antique shop, will be too small to live in. So in the past few months, we also had to find another piece of property for us to live. That will have to be another post because that’s beyond a work in progress, but it is someplace new for me to move things that I’ve already moved 4-7 times in and out of this building or in and out of the motel.
There have been a few moments of brief intermission in all this chaos…very few moments where I was able to hide behind the camera and do what I love the most….take some photos. Rather than bore you with my latest moving business, here are a few shots I’ve done in the past few months.
If you’re visiting Cedar Key, stop by and check out the new Gallery. It’s on 2nd Street. Little yellow building across from Tony’s. Hopefully it should be open soon if I can ever finish moving stuff and get back to taking photos.