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The Alligator Army Weekly Open Thread, Vol. Since Then I

There are times when a life changes a little, and times when it changes a lot. I’m living through the latter.

2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Gymnastics Championship Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Since late 2020, I’ve been living with my parents. Many of you few who still read this site regularly — thank you and bless you for that — know that, and know why: Back pain that hobbled me for the better part of the last two years, the pandemic that has hampered all of us for the last two years and then some if we’ve been lucky, the exploding housing market that has made living on one’s own a luxury I cannot afford right now, and more.

Since July 5, we’ve all been living in hotels while dealing with the aftermath of a house fire that changed our lives at about 4 a.m. that morning.

That’s not all of why I haven’t posted here since then — I have, probably obviously, turned the dial way back this spring and summer. I want to explain that better when I get a chance.

But that “when I get a chance” feeling has been chronic since the early morning I spent watching our garage be consumed by an inferno that burned so hot that the fronts of the two cars in the driveway melted. Virtually every stretch of 30 or more minutes that I would have used to sit and think and competently, coherently write since then has been either devoted to a recovery effort that has been a near-daily task since and probably isn’t a quarter done, the new work of making medium-term life at a hotel something that is tolerable and not entirely alienating for three people living on top of each other, or the necessary recuperation from the efforts of the former.

I’ve been documenting this — mostly the things I have thought while sitting in hotel breakfast nooks — on Twitter. For me, it takes about 30 seconds to compose and send a tweet, and I can do that while keeping the air conditioning of a car running while my mom deals with a fire inspector or a restoration team in 95-degree heat, or just before walking into the house I grew up in to see what thing that we forgot to get last time needs to be retrieved this time, or while sitting on a semi-comfortable hotel couch, decompressing after trying to make a solo trip to that house and instead having the last working car in our possession show me a “stop engine” message, leading to me ultimately taking my first-ever Uber home ... from my driveway to a hotel.

I hope you can forgive me allocating the spare 30 minutes I have here or there, or the hours I have at night, to physical and emotional maintenance of these new conditions of my existence. I think that has been the best way of spending them, rather than sitting down to interrogate the narrative of Florida’s last six weeks of football recruiting or explain how I think the Gators men’s basketball program is going to change under Todd Golden or break down why winning three track titles didn’t quite get Florida to the top of the Directors’ Cup standings, just to a comfortable top-five finish.

And if that led to a period of silence here that lost readers for a while or for good, I get it.

But I’m also committing, this August, to stringing together enough of these half-hours or using as much of my evenings as I need to use to get at least one post up per day. It might be a short post; it might be a long one. (It won’t be a countdown to kickoff post. I’m not even attempting that this year.) It might be a post you like; it might be a post only I do. It might be about football or gymnastics or swimming or NIL or the political ecosystem in Florida and how that might affect Gators teams or hotel breakfasts.

No matter what: One a day. That’s my goal, promise, aim. And I want you to hold me to it.