Happy New Decade to you and yours! Been a couple days now since the wild celebrations and I hope yours was epic. If you still don’t know what day it is, then I’m sure yours was. How was mine? Well, quiet and just…different. That’s probably the best word: Different. I’m usually performing on New Years Eve as an MC/DJ but for the first time in 15 years, I was home.
And man I needed it. Around 10pm I found myself alone on the couch watching the Longhorns own the Alamo Bowl taking place down the street from where I now live in San Antonio. But really, the game was more background noise because for about an hour I had been deep in reflection on what was the wildest year I’ve ever lived. And this is Texas, so if your neighbors shoot off fireworks at midnight, which they ALL did, it’s most certainly a great New Years! So yeah, my night was pretty good. But damn, the more I though about it the more I realized, 2019 was the wildest fucking year…and it changed everything!
2019 started off perfectly for me and the family, with a planned trip in late January to Puerto Rico, my true home. In the back of my mind, this trip was more than a short Vacay to celebrate Fiestas Patronales, it was a reason to look further into an idea my wife and I were kicking around: Moving to Puerto Rico!
We’d discussed it for years but it never seemed like the right time. But now that I was home full time with the kids as a #SAHD since stepping down from my Marketing Directorship in 2018 and the fact that my wife was feeling unfulfilled by her full-time teaching position, the idea was quickly turning into a plan. A plan that would include securing MUCH cheaper living than the DC area afforded us, trips to beaches in all directions, having the kids (and me) learn the Spanish language, having deep culture immersion (my wife is a Spanish Teacher/Tutor so this makes sense) and a million other amazing wonderful reasons to call my beautiful island country home. Press play on this video and tell me this isn’t paradise!
Once we landed on the island with this new idea, this new mindset, firmly set in place, the idea was absolutely a plan in motion.
“WE ARE MOVING TO PUERTO RICO!”
We wasted zero time and scheduled to see a few houses, told our family still on the island post Hurricane Maria (not many) and began to “feel” the island in a way we never had before.
My wife knew the feeling though. She went to college on the island years before to study Spanish and fell in love with everything about the place. Lucky for me, she waited to find her Puerto Rican man in the states. But now, the idea of going back, it energized and motivated her in a way I had never seen and I loved it. We even set our date of departure to jet to the Caribbean, 9/19/19!
Papi Preschool at this time was just starting to transform into the platform it is today; a place to highlight positive parents. I was starting to connect with other dads online and finding my “tribe” so to speak. A couple of guys in particular stood out to me and both ended up influencing and assisting me in taking Papi Preschool to the next level.
First was Mr. Brock Lusch, creator of @nomadad on IG and host of the Not On My Ass Dad Podcast on http://www.thenomadad.com. He hit me in my DM and said, “Hey man. Have you heard of this? You should go!” I thought to myself, “No, I hadn’t heard of it! What is it? Why should I be there?” I reached out to a fellow Puerto Rican Papi that I started following on IG, Mr. James López of @Fatherhoodislit & Cool 4 Dads and asked him about it. “Yeah bro. It’s a big event. Not many Dads like us there though. You should come and represent.” Between his podcast, IG page and blog, his content was pretty much the first I came across online when I wanted to find dads “like me”.
Anyone of color knows what he meant by “Like us”. I sure did. All my life I had felt that I had to represent for my people. To show others that stereotypes are bullshit. Just being a Dad who stays home with the kids is isolating enough. But being a dad of color doing it, I had to showcase my WHY. I had to share it with all who would listen. Because if I didn’t, people would just keep thinking I lost my job or something. Maybe this Dad 2.0 taking place the end of February was where I could get things really going.
I reached back out to Brock to talk more about the summit. A few days later, this man got me a FREE TICKET! It had at least a $200 value by that point since the summit was just a couple weeks away in San Antonio. I mean, who does that? He doesn’t know me, never met me and yet, he made it happen. Wow man, I will forever be grateful for that Brock!
I’d visited San Antonio a year earlier for the first time to celebrate Thanksgiving with friends who had just moved to South Texas from my hometown of Rockville, MD. I fell in love with the city back then, so I knew it was destiny that I was going back to be a part of something this amazing. After I thanked Brock a million times, I purchased my plane ticket and got ready to meet other passionate fathers in Texas.
To keep a long story from getting longer, I’ll say this, this trip changed my life. From the moment I began to connect with other Dads at the welcome reception happy hour, I knew I was meeting brothers. I was able to give Brock a big hug and shake hands with so may Dads I had been following on social media. And of course, within an hour, it was me and a few other Dads of color just kicking it like Kings at the round table. It wasn’t intentional, just energy finding energy. There I finally had a chance to meet James of #Fatherhoodislit and he introduced me other kings in attendance.
I finally found men I could learn from. The men that wouldn’t judge me, but support me. The men that looked and talked like me. The #Papitribe had officially started! The rest of the summit was simply magic! Big shoutout to DOVE MEN CARE for being the title sponsor and hooking it up with some dope swag! They even had a custom built barbershop so fathers could get a fresh cut. This gave me the chance to meet Jelani, San Antonio’s best barber and owner of Kings Barber Shop. He took care of me!
Connecting with so much positivity was absolutely exhilarating! Being surrounded by people who’s main focus in that moment in time was being the best parent possible, was a gift. It filled me up with hope. It motivated me to do bigger things. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are many more Dads than I could ever have imagined, just like me, just doing their best, willing to share their WHY & HOW with other parents. Priceless.
Thank you to Mr. Doug French for all he does to make Dad 2.0 what it is. You are definitely a Chief in the Tribe!
Needless to say, the summit changed everything for me personally. For one, I fell deeper in love with the city of San Antonio, and for good reason. The southern charm of the people, the historic sites, the amazing Riverwalk and the food…omg, the food! Such a beautiful place to visit but never would I think it would be home just 6 months later!
It was now April, time to get the house ready to sell back home in Maryland and take our planning for Puerto Rico to another level. One month, hundreds of headaches and Thousands of dollars later, it was sold! Took only 5 days on the market to sell my house of ten years. We loved it so much and now it belonged to someone else, crazy. My little piece of the DMV was sold and now it was time to enjoy the southern states for a few more months until we land in Puerto Rico in October.
The next part of the plan was taking the family on a road trip down south to visit family and friends. We’ve driven to Florida before but this was different. We mapped out a route from DC to San Antonio that would take us to amazing parts of the country we had never visited before. This was such a special opportunity for our family and we took advantage of it.
We were able to stay with friends in many places we visited and utilized Booking.com when we needed. Their FREE CANCELLATION feature was everything!
So here we were. A family of 6 (with Dog) in a minivan loaned to us by friends we were to visit in Austin (Yeah, those are real friends). I’ll expand on the specifics of the trip on a later post, but I can tell you this, by the end of the trip, Puerto Rico also seemed to be in the rear view mirror.
Anyone who pays attention to the news might remember the shit show that was the Puerto Rican Governor in early-mid summer. I won’t mention his name, but this asshole basically took money from Hurricane Maria survivors, and helped others do the same. His ousting from office on July 19th felt like a hammer coming down on our dream of moving to Puerto Rico.
The instability on the island was now cemented in place and thousands continued to leave la isla bonita, including my second niece. Where did she move to? Yep, Texas. She moved in with her sister who was already in Austin and awaiting our visit in August. What she didn’t realize was that our visit would be one of many, because now, a new idea was sprouting up: what if we moved to Texas?!
For those of you who follow any of my other pages on IG, especially @moved2alamocity, you know what happens next. If you don’t, go follow them and I’ll be back with part 2 of this entry to let you know how it all went down!