*This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on any link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you.
May 30, 2017.
It’s significant (and it isn’t), because on that day, one year ago, I arrived at St. James Plantation after being on the road for two days with my best friend, a mutual friend, and my dog. It was the beginning of learning some of life’s lessons. Like really big ones. Most of you who read my blog know that I wasn’t supposed to end up here. I live in a beautiful community and it isn’t lost on me how fortunate I am, but I was supposed to be on Oak Island just mere blocks from the seashore.
The house I had previously rented turned out to be a drug den.
For a single woman such as myself, with a family member who’s an undercover agent, that was not gonna fly. After blowing into the realty office that rented that house to me in full-fledged-tornado-mad-redhead-form, I was graciously let out of my lease. I’m forever grateful that I didn’t have to stay in a place that may not have been safe for me. And if you know anything about coastal beach towns, long-term housing that’s also pet-friendly is very hard to come by. So, finding that particular house, after months of looking, seemed like a bright, flashing sign for me to relocate.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve always wanted to live on the coast, particularly on Oak Island.
It’s had a soft spot in my heart since I was 8 years old. Every childhood to early adulthood summer was spent here with my family. I used to think about the places I wanted to run away to and OKI always came to mind. The ocean soothes my soul. And the nostalgia of once sharing the seashore with my mom while we looked for dolphins is one of the reasons I chose it. Look, there were plenty of other signs that I wasn’t supposed to move at all. But being the stubborn woman that I am, I plowed through every single roadblock that I encountered along the way. I couldn’t wait to get here. And get here I did.
I’d like to tell you that every single bit of Mermaid Life has been blissful, but it hasn’t.
In fact, living here is much different than just vacationing here. You probably won’t believe it when I say it, but the ocean loses a little bit of its magic when you live on an island. People think they’ll be at the beach every day once they live there. Yet I can’t tell you the last time my feet touched the sand. I am 7 minutes from the beach by car, but the truth of the matter is, it’s all about access. And if you’re not oceanfront, or at least able to walk there, you don’t really go. And yes. I’m as surprised as you are to hear myself say that.
What I thought it would be versus what it is doesn’t compare.
I ran away from life in December 2016 to the most beautiful place I know. Why? It’s simple really. I needed to heal my heart. And for the first five months, it was blissful. But the closer it got to May 6, 2017, the less I wanted to return to Tennessee.
I was really happy during that time, but I was also either oceanfront or just a few blocks from the beach. Come on, it’s easy to be happy that way! I think I was content because I was healing. I mean it helps when you don’t have the painful reminders of the past constantly slapping you in the face. And since healing usually goes hand in hand with lessons, I’m learning a lot. Not only about who I am as a person, but also about what I need in order to be fulfilled.
It’s been a lonely time, to be honest with you, and a lot of that is my fault.
I don’t trust as easily as I used to. And I equate more people with more drama, so I intentionally keep my circle here very small. I’ve learned the hard way that having friends doesn’t necessarily mean having a support system. There’s a difference and I’m so homesick for that. I didn’t realize until the last several months just how important that level of emotional support is for me. Can you have that anywhere? Probably. But it takes a lot of time to build that kind of rapport with people, and thus far, I haven’t been willing to let anybody in enough to allow that to happen.
I’ve also discovered that distance is truly the only thing that comes between two hearts that miss one another.
Running away was completely necessary for me, but sometimes, no matter how far away you are from a person, you’re still chained to them on the soul level whether you want to be or not. Matters of the heart can never be made sense of, no matter what a person puts you through. And anyone who tells you differently has no concept of what it is to love someone that much or that hard. Twin flames can’t ever be separated and rarely can one survive forever without the other. He and I are both tried-and-true living proof of that, but I can admit it much more readily than he can. Pride. Ya know. I may not trust him with my heart at the moment, but I definitely trust him with everything else and there’s a whole lot to be said about that. We are entwined. We just are.
I’ve learned that the people you trust the most are the ones who let you down the hardest.
And that sometimes, you have to let people walk their own path. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been best friends for 24 years, or if you’ve been married 19. There are just times when continuing to do life with a toxic, emotionally unhealthy person isn’t worth it anymore, no matter how much you care about them. Since I relocated, I’ve ended a lot of relationships that weren’t bringing value to my life and I don’t mean monetary value. When you figure out that they mean a whole lot more to you than you ever did to them, it’s time to cut the cord.
I’ve also come to realize that my life isn’t a vacation.
And that the ‘Freshman 15’ that everyone gains when they move to paradise has become the ‘Sophomore 24’ for me. I even bought a bigger wine fridge for Pete’s sake, and it stays fully stocked. It’s easy to gain weight when you’re away from reality and surrounded by amazing food and watermelon margaritas.
I’ve discovered that I need structure and that not having a routine is detrimental to my overall well-being.
I’m not sure yet that it’s possible to live in paradise and have a real life because it feels so much like Utopia to me. If I was on a permanent vacation, that would be one thing, but I’ve got things to do and places to be. I mean, at least I think I do, but tomorrow could be a different story.
I’ve learned that I’m the happiest when I’m not stuck in one place.
I could live out of a suitcase for the rest of my natural life and be ecstatically happy as long as I have a home base to go back to. My dog doesn’t travel well, so that can’t be a reality for me right now, but that plan I had three years ago of selling everything I have and traveling cross-country will eventually happen when the timing is right. Snickers is truly my very best friend and I want to squeeze out every minute of life that I have left with him because he’s 12 now and he’s my little old man. I don’t know what I will ever do without him. I can’t even let myself think about that.
I’ve discovered how uncomfortable it is not to have a plan.
I’m the woman who usually has her entire life figured out at least five years in advance and the fact that I don’t really concerns me. For the first time I ever, I do not have a plan but that’s not what bothers me so much. What’s bothersome is that I don’t care that I don’t have a plan and that is soooo not like me. Listen, my life isn’t Amazon Prime, but by golly, I want it to be! Instant gratification is something I crave right now and to have the answers I’m seeking just appear out of nowhere like those packages from Amazon do when they show up at my door literally 15 minutes after I’ve ordered something? Yes. That. That would be phenomenal!
‘I don’t care’ seems to be the common denominator here, doesn’t it?
I don’t care that I finally live in paradise. My education has always been really important to me, but I no longer care about school. I’ve also lost motivation for the blog, which is why I have my friends stepping up to fill in all the gaps. And to be completely honest, I don’t even really care about myself that much anymore either. I find joy in my dog and contentment in licking icing bowls at the local bakery that my friend owns. Bedtime is my favorite part of the day because I get to escape that vacant feeling of going through the motions of everyday life. To tell you that I don’t know where I went is an understatement because I’ve always had a zest for life. Never, ever have I been in this place before and I’ve never been good at navigating uncharted territory.
I think we learn a lot about ourselves when we are forced to be still and get quiet.
To me, though, it sorta feels like swimming in taffy, really, but I’m trying to understand what it is I’m supposed to be learning from all this emptiness. They say that we make our own happiness and that we have to find the magic within in order to find the magic on the outside. I don’t so much buy into that, because recently, I told the man who had (has?) my heart that it just shouldn’t be this damn hard to be happy.
I’m not sure exactly where I will land next, nor do I know the timing of it.
I’ve been accepted into the social work program at UNC-W and I’m supposed to start school in the fall. My lease isn’t up until the end of December, so there’s that too. But I think the most important thing I’ve learned during this ridiculously expensive experiment is that Oak Island may not be where I’m supposed to live—at least not right now. It saddens me to say that because no matter how mundane it is, I’ve made a life for myself here even though it’s not what I hoped it would be. I wanted a fresh start and I’ve tried really hard to make it work, but the truth is, it just doesn’t fit me and I definitely don’t feel like I flourish here.
I don’t think I’ll be away from this place forever, because I love living by the sea.
I have no doubt that I’ll grieve for it when I’m somewhere else and I know I will miss the few friends I’ve made here. But I’m discovering that being surrounded by the people who know me the best, genuinely hold space for me, and love me the most is the stuff that really matters. The weird thing is, I don’t see myself in Tennessee either and besides, they say you can’t ever go home again anyway.
Where will I end up?
I don’t have the first clue. Perhaps I’ll decide to stay and just move to the island so that I can be closer to the water. I know I’m happier where I can at least hear the waves crashing on the shoreline. Or maybe I’ll finally land in Asheville. Who’s to say? But the one thing I know for sure even though I don’t seem to know anything else is that I’m willing to risk everything in hopes that I will become smitten with the sweetness of life all over again.
Til next time, stay sassy.
What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve ever learned and can you really bloom where you’re planted?