Throwback: A Message to My FL Fam

**A Journal entry dated 2 months ago. Here’s a message that still rings true.                           To: My FL fam.**

I’m packing away my life once again.

People often ask me what it feels like to move around so often. It depends on the situation I suppose. Sometimes, packing feels like running away. The pressure to get out mounts until you’re bursting through the doors with the last box or suitcase in hand. You peer up and look through the rear-view with a smirk on your face, realizing that the only time you’ll look back on this moment is to relive the feeling of fleeing for freedom.

Packing this time didn’t feel this way. This time packing was bittersweet. I cried a bunch; sobbed tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of excitement, and tears of nervousness. I remember how I felt the day I first viewed my current FL apartment as this “potential” FL apartment, which later turned home (then turning in a place I never wanted to go to). I remember telling myself that I wasn’t going to be moving for a while after this. My roommate and I felt refreshed starting over in a more roomy place with better lighting, better neighbors, a better location, and simply put, just a better way of living. That’s when life happened. It shattered all and any hope of me wanting to continue this life here in Florida on my own, because in reality that’s exactly where I was, not only on my own but also all alone.

Between having to deal with my close friend/roommate’s relapse  (emotionally and financially), the feeling of being alone, and missing what has always been important to me, my family and close childhood friends I’ve had enough. My 11 years in FL haven’t been wasted. I’ve experienced so much; adventures, moments I would’ve never had if not for living in the “Sunshine State”. Still, I feel like it’s now time to go on home. I haven’t been doing anything here that I couldn’t be doing back home. Every time I go back home I see my mother just a tad bit older. These are the years that I can’t waste away because who knows how much longer I have with her. So I back home is where I go because for now, it’s where I feel like I need to be.

The irony is making a close circle of friends in the last few weeks before my departure. As I pack up the last bits of my life I reminisce on these last few weeks and although I’m sad to be leaving, I’m happy that I leave with the knowledge that I did make a family away from family. This family came to be unexpected and formed without me even noticing what was taking place. The people who kept tabs on me while I was sick. Those, that when they knew that I was undergoing tremendous amounts of stress, made sure that I remembered to breath, and to look at the glass half full, bubbly, and fun. These are the same people who would listen, understand… and who didn’t judge. These are the people that no matter the distance, I’ll always have my Florida family; a home away from home.

From the Southwest coast over to the Southeast coast, pieces of my heart left behind like bread crumbs. 

Headed Home

As soon as I publicly voiced my plans on moving back home I had quite a number of people reach out to me questioning why.

“Why would you ever come back here? Why leave Florida to come back to this?”

It’s a natural question especially coming from those who have never left home. For someone like me who has been away from home for 12 years now, the question is a bit silly. My answer is simple. I’m ready to head back home.

I first left NJ when I was 20 years old. I had just gone through a very painful breakup. I was tired of my town and all of the surrounding areas. I had been born and raised in the same area and although I knew quite a few people from all sorts of different backgrounds, I was bored of it all. There was an entire world to see. I would be damned if I where to just stay in one spot my whole life.

I took off to Florida in February of 2008 and I have pretty much lived in every major area of South Florida except for Miami. I also moved within that time to California and lived there for exactly one year before heading back to the East Coast with my tail between my legs (you may have won the battle but not yet the war CA! *shakes fist dramatically in the air*).

I have experienced so many different kinds of adventures, and been on so many journeys, some bad, most good. I’ve gone through many lessons and although life lessons will never cease to exist, every single one I’ve been through up until now has helped me discover who I am. I believe that without discovering and learning about who we really are, not just as people, but also as individual souls, without knowing that you can’t possibly enjoy life for what it really is. How can you enjoy it if you are always questioning yourself, your likes, your dislikes, your boundaries, your desires? How can you create your reality when you barely know your dreams? Not society’s, not your family’s, but your own. Moments of introspection and self-discovery are key to experiencing and living life in the best way we can for ourselves.

I once left home because I was tired of being around the same old, to learn more about myself, and to see what I was capable of. Now I go home because I’m ready to be around all those that know me and love me for me and always have even before I truly knew myself. I am ready to be around familiar surroundings. I can take what I’ve learned about myself and apply it to my everyday life and do something special with with it alongside of the support and love of my family and friends.

I am running towards what I once ran away from. Although I will never lose my itch to discover, that is what traveling is made for. I will always be nomadic. It is in my blood. My move back home may not even be forever, who knows!? I, however, do know that home is where the heart is and I’m headed on back.

Yes We Are And This Is Why

I was apart of a very interesting conversation not too long ago which included my boyfriend and one of his good friends.  They were speaking of the best method to clean car headlights.

“Bro, all you have to do is spray your headlights with OFF bug spray and bam! They’re clean!”

“Yeah, you told me that but when I looked it up it said that it doesn’t last very long. It’s a short term fix. I’m just going to buy the special kit and clean them. I can clean yours too babe.” My boyfriend smiles, turning his attention from his friend to where I was sitting.

“Awe, I appreciate that! But don’t worry, I can just do it.” The statement spilled from my lips without a second’s thought. It has always been natural for me to do things on my own. For one thing, I’ve never liked to burden others with tedious duties, especially if it’s something I could easily just do my self. Plus, I’ve always been one to just take care of things on my own. Not so much because I want to but because I’ve been conditioned to. My boyfriend’s friend, who I just met a couple months ago, wouldn’t have a clue as to the reasoning of my reaction though and he quickly starts to lay it on thick…

“Lord.. all you women now-a-days are so independent! Can’t you girls just let us do things for you? I mean, it’s because we actually like to do things for you. It’s how we show that we care, seriously…”

He is not the only man to feel this way. I feel as though the majority of men see women as wanting to be Miss. Independent, yet to be honest, I don’t think it is so much of us wanting to be independent as it is that we have been conditioned to be this way.

My generation is the generation of the baby boomer parents. Baby boomers are the generation to have really started a new trend in parenting, instilling different values and ways of life. Whether you were married and then divorced, raising children that way, or never married to begin with and having children out of wedlock, one of the major lessons taught, be it beaten into you or subconsciously taught, was the lesson of being independent. Doing for yourself so you would never have to solely depend on others. This lesson being especially directed towards females. Men were always raised as being the “men of the house”. Families have always depended on men to bring home food, to help build and maintain shelter and order. Men were always looked as the bosses, the ones who truly ran the household. It has only been in the last 50 years or so that women have begun a new sort of revolution with what they wanted their contributions to be. More freedom to choose what, where, when, and who when it came to decisions to be made in their lives. Even women who have been in a loving marriage for decades will say that they wish a sort of different life for their daughters, one with more leeway to do what they want to do and without having to depend on anyone other than themselves.

My parents divorced when I was 4 years old. At that time, my mother had depended on my father so much that she didn’t even know to fill out a personal check on her own. She had been so utterly dependent on my father that when they split up, she felt as if she had been thrown into a world she knew nothing of. It was a struggle for her to get back on her feet and succeed as a single mother of two young girls. Her mantra always was, “Do for yourself. Depend on no man. You are all you need.” and as a kid, watching and observing, I took this in and applied it to my life. Before I knew it, it was my life.

I am no extreme feminist by any means. Yet, I do understand the thoughts behind those that are, just as I understand the frustrations plaguing men when it comes to the evolution of women and the roles men now play in their lives. But as it is a struggle for men to adapt to a woman’s newly found independence, it is also a struggle for women to find a middle ground with wanting to be independent while also allowing room for someone else to help take care of you. It is a small battle that presents itself regularly in life. One that I don’t ever see being won by either party but one that can be a bit more manageable.

For me it is a struggle to let go of the reigns a bit and allow for someone else to take on  more than what I am used to giving up. I have to remind myself that yes, although I am very independent, I also have to allow others who love me to do things for me, not because I can’t do them myself but because for them, it’s a way to show that they care. It takes effort and awareness to be able to allow for this to happen but it’s a challenge worth accepting if it means bringing a bit of joy into someone else’s life. I hope that for the women who read this post it allows for you to take a step back, however slight that step may be, in order to allow someone else to do for you. Allow them to care for you in ways that they would like to express. Give them that chance to express. I also hope that for the men who read this you may now understand that maybe it isn’t so much that we hate your help. It is that we have grown into independence and truly know nothing else.

Character Foundation

My love of books and passion for writing grew from the manure of a childhood I had growing up. It was the perfect fertilizer. From the time I was born I was thrown into an atmosphere of anger and aggression. My father wasn’t an alcoholic or a drug addict. He was just mean or absent. A cranky and miserable man with an entirely too short of a fuse so needless to say he was never a really big part of my life. When it came to parenting he was a minimalist and once my parents divorced, the main male role model in my life would end up being my grandfather.

My parents divorced when I was about 4 and I do remember that being a huge turning point for me, and of course, so was all the other crap that was to come. After the divorce, my mother quickly had to go from having one full time job to having one full time and two part time jobs. While she was out working hard to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, my grandparents provided us with the care and supervision that we needed. They soon after began living with us and it stayed that way on and off for about ten years.

Many would describe my grandfather Cesar as mean and grumpy, a man of few words. He apparently wasn’t too popular among my aunts and uncles, although the love for him was never absent. They had their own daddy issues to deal with and most of my cousins weren’t his biggest fans. My grandfather, in my eyes was something else. For me he was a handsome elegant man who loved my sister and I to no avail. He spoiled us when he could yet we still showed great respect for him. If we did wrong, he would let us know, not once hitting us, but his verbal reprimands were like harsh, stinging slaps to our faces. We never wanted to let him down. My grandfather taught me what it was to have a man in charge. The head of the household. He may not have been a perfect father himself but he had obviously learned and had become the perfect grandfather for my sister and me.

My grandmother was an angel. She was a woman who had given to birth to 8 children and pretty much raised them on her own. My grandfather had been known to leave her for weeks without notice to go on drinking binges, spending the little money the family would earn completely on himself. My grandmother was a true housewife. Not only did she cook and clean, but she also tended to the farm (milking cows, killing chickens, ect..) and would hand make all of her children’s clothes. You can now just imagine the role she played in our lives. My grandmother taught us how to make homemade meals, and even homemade cheese. She knew all about universal energy and shared with us the importance of nature, love, and intuition. And when times were tough emotionally, she was the one who taught me how to get through it.

I’ve never had it easy. Whether it was my home life, school life, or the life I had among my “friends” there was always something I wanted to run away from. My grandmother was the one who taught me how to escape the bullying, escape the feeling of rejection from my father, escape from all the darkness, and all other things I had no energy to really face. She taught me how to escape through the magical world of words.

“El que lee se instruye.” She’d repeat. And I did.. I taught myself many things about life. Things I would have never discovered early on in life if it weren’t for the magic of words.

My Teacher’s an Alien by Bruce Coville was the very first book I ever read that hadn’t been assigned to me by a school teacher. I’ll never forget it. It had a bright orange cover with two school kids, a boy and a girl, looking through their school teacher’s living room window, as they spot the teacher zippering down his human disguise revealing the fact that he is, in fact, an alien. I was about 12 or 13 at the time and this book was the first book from the library I had ever decided to read on my own. It also ended up being the first time I had ever read a book cover to cover in one day. This is when I understood the magic that books held in transporting you from reality into a completely different world. From that day forward I had found my escape and I was addicted. At 14 I began to write. I wrote poems and short stories, most of the time using my life as a point of reference. Writing then soon turned into my other form of escape and also release. I ended up spending most of my adolescent years with my nose stuck in either a book or notebook while the rest of the time I spent observing. I learned to observe people and life around me. I began to get good at not only reading books, and people, but situations as well.

Today, I still find shelter within the pages of a book and expression within the words I write down. Who I am today and what I know comes from guidance of what I’ve read, and what I’ve experienced, but also from the wise words of whom my grandparents once were. My grandfather is no longer walking this earth. The day he passed was the day I knew I lost my fatherly guidance. Instead of sorrow, I expressed gratitude because to have him in my life at all was a needed blessing. I mean who knows how my view of men and relationships would have been if he would not have been present in my life. My grandmother on the other hand is alive, but she is not the version that I once knew. She suffers from Alzheimer’s and is totally wheelchair bound. She currently lives back in her home country of Colombia where she gets better and affordable care than she would here in the states. I cannot tell you when the last time was that I saw her or if I will ever get to see her again. I think about them every single day for everything I know came from the foundation that they helped build within me. Today, I give them thanks for the wonderful world they helped me create for myself, now all that is left is for me to make every day count for they did none of what they did in vain.

To Cesar and Maria, You will always be the great example of which to follow.

abuleitos

 

 

Sirens of Change

I can still here the sirens echoing in the background. The images of hysteria play back in my mind. To think, two decades have passed since then.

A warm and bright afternoon in July, my family from Boston had been in town visiting. It was always an exciting time when they came to visit. My aunt, an incredible cook of Colombia’s finest cuisine, my uncle the funniest and happiest man I had ever known. The two of them had two kids, my cousins, and for the most part we all got along pretty well. Leon was the oldest of the two and was awesome to hang around with. He treated me as his equal although he was 5 years older than I was. He had the humor of his father and the kind heart of his mother. Veronica, his sister, was only a couple year older than me, and by far, way cooler. Growing up, she was who I wanted to be. Anytime our families got together, my sister and I would tag along with her as if we were playing follow the leader. My sister, who was four at the time, followed because it was in her nature to. I followed because all I wanted to do was learn to be cool too.

On this particular day, my cousin Veronica and I were out in the yard laying on the grass, contemplating on what to do with our day. I was never the one out the the two of us to come up with any ideas for I never had any cool ones to come up with. I would take the backseat and follow her lead. This is why I was shocked when an innocent comment on my part, evolved into a moment that would change my life forever.

“I’m in the mood for some sour gummy worms.” I thought to myself out loud. Veronica shot up and mentioned what a great idea that was. “Wait, what idea??” I was clueless.

Instantly a plan was concocted to somehow obtain some money and head over to the store to buy ourselves some candy. Half of our plan was easy, getting to the store. We would just walk there. Sure, it was dangerous. We had to cross an intersection, four lanes of traffic flowing both ways, but all we needed to do was look both ways before we crossed. No biggie. The other half of our plan is what needed tweaking. How would we get money to buy candy? We couldn’t ask our parents. They’d want to know why we needed the money which would lead them to find out we were heading to the store. They’d never just let us walk there.

At that very moment her and I were brainstorming, a neighbor of mine pulls into her parking spot just a few doors down from where we lived. She was the nicest lady ever and I remembered back then I always wondered why she lived alone. That’s when I was struck by another “brilliant” idea. Apparently the second one of the day, I was on a roll. I explained to Veronica that all we had to is get the lady to chit chat with us, we would bring up the fact that it was our friend’s birthday and that we wanted to get to the store to buy her a birthday card and some candy but that we had no money. I was almost sure that the lady would give us some. I wasn’t sure if the plan was full proof but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

By mere luck, or very good acting, we had gotten the lady to donate $10 to the cause. After explaining to her that our parents never had money, her look of pity fell upon us, and due to the fact that she had nothing smaller than a 10 dollar bill in her wallet, let us have it in order to “make your friend happy”.

We couldn’t have grabbed the money any quicker when we heard my mom’s voice calling for us. I stashed the money in the pocket of my neon blue shorts as we walked up to our porch where my mother stood.

“There you two are,” she smiled. “Take your sister to play with you. But don’t go where I can’t keep an eye out for you.” I began to debate immediately. I didn’t want my sister to tag along. This was bull crap.

There’s no arguing with mom… ever. With a frown on my face and heavy stomps of my feet, the final signs of rebellion, the three of us headed down the steps, and only when my mother had gone back inside had we redirected ourselves towards the store.

The walk towards the store, reaching the intersection, those moments feel like a blur to me. Blurry snapshots of events that seem unimaginable, but that happened. One moment the three of us are giggling at nothing in particular, discussing what kind of candy we were all to get. The next moment, we’re almost to the intersection when my sister, who I was holding hands with at the time, pulls from my grasp and darts out and away from of me laughing playfully, her giggles still echoing in my ear.  The world slowed down at that very second.

A small blue car. High pitched screeching. A man runs up to me, he’s so blonde he looks like the sun, and he’s yelling.

“Where’s your mother????!!!…” and he then runs off again. I watch him to see where he runs to when I see the tiny little mound of flesh lying in the street that is my sister. She’s shouting out for my mom, her shouts then over powered by emergency sirens.

It was a miracle that my sister lived. I believe that the fact that she was so small is why she hadn’t been completely destroyed by a car that was going over 50 miles per hour. Her tiny body had been launched almost 50ft. She had broken both legs, lost most of her baby teeth, and had severe road rash to most of her body.

This phase of my life had been full of guilt and sorrow. So much so that today a lot of it still remains in the corners of my heart, shadowing the depths of my mind, only to be felt when I decide to let my guard down. It’s a pain that I will never truly lose for I feel as though I am a big reason as to much of the suffering my sister has had in the past. Even though I feel as though my sister is my twin soul and that our relationship with one another has been lived out through multiple past lives, creating much of the bond that we have today, I know that this tragic even that happened more than two decades ago has bonded us even tighter than we have ever been in any life before.

At the age of 8 is when I discovered tragedy and what it could mean for someone to lose a life. It had been the first time I got to experience first hand pure sadness and guilt knowing that I played a major part in someone  else’s physical and emotional pain. Trauma has made its way into my mind and has camped there for years. Today it’s hard for me to causally cross a street without imagining death lurking there, waiting for me.Today I still cope with what happened all those years ago with flashbacks and anxiety. Still it is a moment in life that I am grateful to have gone through, because no matter how much pain it’s dressed up in, there is a good that is greater than all the darkness it has shadowed. A beautiful light that was bestowed upon a horrific disaster. It took my sister over a year to fully recover. Today she is the most beautiful and loving person I know. She radiates the room when she walks into it with her smile. Today you would never even have imagined that she went through such an ordeal.  Today I am blessed to have her.

040-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Muse: Natal Galvan, Angie M.

 

 

Life Isn’t Hallmark

I was insane to believe that by reintroducing him back into my life that it would change anything. I believed, that at that moment, my life would end like a Hallmark movie.

It was during Christmas week, while my boyfriend and I vacationed back home to meet each other’s family, that I would see my father again after almost ten years.

The unconditional love a child has for her parent, no matter how angry they can be at them amazes me. When I saw him sitting there, his back towards me, the surge of love that filled my heart left me frozen in my place for a few beats. Once I snapped out of it, I walked towards him, and sneaking up behind him on his left side I whispered,

“Well look at who is out and about late night on a Thursday?” He turned around in his seat and I instantly found myself in his arms. It was a strange embrace, but it felt warm and kind.

Our reunion that night would have probably been a bit happier, catching up, telling stories, if only my mother’s boyfriend wouldn’t have made the evening be about himself and his insecurities. That’s neither here nor there. That I will leave for another story.

I ended up drunk and emotional that night. After closing down the bar, before heading home, I repeated, “I missed you…. You should let me take care of you.. I hate knowing you live alone…” I unsteadily hung on his shoulder slurring as I spoke I’m sure. Now that I think about it, I don’t even remember him actually leaving. All the sudden he just wasn’t even there anymore.

I haven’t heard a word from him since then.

Christmas has passed. New Year’s came and went. Next up, my birthday.

Should I be surprised? Hell no. I should have expected it, and honestly, I’m surprised I hadn’t.

Life isn’t like a movie. Life is real life. In life you will achieve great things but you will also face low and hard times. In life you’ll be happy and you will too experience great sadness. You will be lifted up by strangers and be left in the dust by loved ones. Expect it.

Now, let’s try to accompany that realistic thought with one of a happy silver lining. By embracing the fact that life will have both good and rough times in store for each and every one of us, we can face facts, deal with them, and either cherish them for their beauty, or move through it, learning as much as we can in order to move on.

I took a risk by meeting my father that night. I do not regret it because I experienced a quick moment of satisfaction and love with him, probably the last one we’ll ever share. Yes, maybe I built up an image in my mind that hadn’t been realistic and yes, maybe I had set myself up for the let down I experienced afterwards. Yet, I’m still glad I put myself out there. The unknown is much more punishing than knowing, and now I know where it is that my relationship with him stands. There are no regrets and if someday something were to happen to either one of us, I am satisfied with knowing that at least I tried, because in life, that’s what ultimately matters, is that we try.

img_20160707_171557-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Author: Natal Galvan

Apologies

It’s New Years Eve.

I guess it’s of no coincidence that I’m here writing. This time of year has always had many people thinking, looking back on their year, analyzing things they could have done better or maybe the things they would have changed.

I happen to think that this year I did as best as I could.

I think back on the four people, for instance, that I wrote sincere apology letters to. Apology letters because I felt that in some way I had inadvertently hurt them and no one deserves to be hurt without being genuinely told “I’m Sorry”, whether the hurt was purposely inflicted or not.

Not one of those four people responded to my letters.

I can’t say that I am at all surprised. It takes a different kind of strength to go back and relive a moment long ago forgotten, forgive, and move on. I was certainly prepared to never hear a word from any one of the people I reached out to. So why spend my time even writing out those sincere and heartfelt letters?? Well it’s simple really. If life becomes easier when you learn to accept the apology you never got, then imagine how much easier it is once you receive the apology you always deserved.

I think about the many times I have been hurt by those close to me, by those I loved very much. I remember there was a time when all I would desire was to receive an apology from them and then move on from the hurt, together, and start fresh. I can honestly say that I never once received one and I learned to move on and forgive anyways. I learned to accept that apology I never got and released myself from the chains that grudges had me bound to for so long. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the person who hurts someone and never says sorry. I don’t want for someone else to have to move on from a situation alone when an “I’m Sorry” could be the very wind under their wings to help carry them away from that pain.”

I wrote the letters and when I sent them out I felt good. I felt good because not only was I acknowledging a mistake I made, not only was I reaching out in hopes to make their life a little better, I unknowingly was releasing myself from guilt that I had held onto for quite some time.

I came to realize that in the apologizes I had written intended to ease someone else’s burden or pain, I had released my own. It was a beautiful thing.

I don’t look at it as though my letters were unanswered or ignored. I mean they could most likely have been, who knows, but those letters still served a purpose. A purpose much stronger and even more beautiful than I had ever intended.

I start this new year on a clean slate, maybe not with everyone else, but definitely with myself. As my 30th birthday creeps closer excitement ripples through my soul because of all that I have learned not only in this last year but in the last decade. The biggest lesson being, Forgiveness.

Not just forgiving others, but most importantly yourself.

1389073_399867570145113_1248921031_n-2Photo Credit: Natal Galvan

Headed South

I cannot say that the day I made the decision to move to Florida I remember in full detail. Actually, that part of my journey here I don’t remember at all. I can’t pin point that exact moment when the decision was made, but I know it happened because here I am. The parts I do remember are as vivid as if it were happening right now. For instance I remember the difficulty I had in making a decision. Choosing between everything I had ever known in life and something so foreign and unknown to me was not at all easy to do. There is something about familiarity that can hold a person hostage. Even if you may not like the current situation, the fact is, that it’s something you know in a world full of unknowns and that reason alone can keep you there. Fear can stop a person dead in their tracks, keeping them from living life. Keeping them from uncovering new opportunities and new ways to grow. I eventually decided to go against that fear. Intuition had no part in it and those “gut feelings” that people always talk about were more feelings of being ill. All I know is that one day, about a year after the idea was first sowed in to my brain, my Maxima was crammed to capacity with boxes and trash bags, full of  what used to be my simple life.  Hitting the road at 3 am I left my protective bubble of New Jersey behind and off I was to the great, yet totally scary, sunshine state.

The feeling was like no other I’ve ever experienced before. It was late February and although it was ice cold, I had my driver side window rolled all the way down. Thinking to myself that I was finally free, all I wanted to feel was the freedom and with that window down and the breeze brushing against my face, I felt what it was like. In that moment all ill feelings I had before, all melted away. Similar to a bird soaring in the sky, I was at peace. I was free and I felt it.

My decision to leave home wasn’t because of any tragedy. I wasn’t running away from a crazy home life nor was I in the search of fame or fortune. It wasn’t because I was trying to get away from Mom and her “rules”. I had had a pretty good life, good friends, good everything really. Once I confronted a few issues from my early teenage years, I was good, or at least in a better place. My reason was simple. I needed change.

I remember waking up one wintry morning, and after sitting snuggled in my bed for a few hours reading, I put the book down and thought to myself, “there is so much to see out there..” Seeing only what I had seen up until that moment in my life, I wanted, no, needed, to see more. I wanted to experience more than the dead end casino life, the old and ghostly boardwalk of Atlantic City, and its over priced salt water taffy. I had to set out and see what this unpredictable world had in store for this vibrant and nomadic Jersey girl. I got out, settled in a small town on the gulf side of the state, and that was all she wrote..

Well, for that stage of my life anyways, hehe.

Yes, there were a couple frustrating hiccups along the road (those I’ll save for a later post) but I know that the choice of coming here was a good one. The flow of life was just too smooth for it to not have been. Life since then has totally been worth it.

I’ve had countless friends ask me how I did it? How did I just pick up and decide to leave one day and not ever really look back? I would have to say that my choice to finally take the step towards moving was small part rational thinking and majority on impulse. You have to just one day stop thinking and just do it.

Could things go wrong? Of course they can!! But hey, guess what?? Things can also go wrong in that familiar yet boring and unsatisfying situation you’re in. Would you rather run a risk of finding yourself in a maybe painful situation by pursuing the things you love, or by enduring the things you hardly even like?

Since moving here I have taken other risks in this journey of my life. Some worked out. Some didn’t. The good part of all this is, this one chance I took to move 1,300 miles away from home gave me enough confidence and strength to allow me to always go after the things I love without doubting myself. I realized that it’s through  experiencing that we will find the true rewards in life.

I’m almost thirty and I’m getting to that point where soon the youth will take my advice with a grain of salt. Still, I will never tire of telling people no matter their age or mine, move away from home for a bit. Get away from the comforts of what you have always known. Dive into the depths of those uncharted waters that have always appealed to you for they have for a reason. Pursue your dreams and make them reality. Look around and you’ll see that you are never too young, nor too old to make things happen for yourself. You can do it. You really can. If things don’t go as planned, it’s not a failure or a loss. It’s a lesson and from that you’ll learn to accept the things you maybe cannot change and tweak the things you can. Living. Learning. Improvement. Evolution.

 10012488_475753932608580_1627322358_n-2 Photo Credit: Natal Galvan Location: Sanibel Island, FL

Finding in the Land of Lost

When I first moved away from home, I didn’t just choose to move out of town, or even just a state away. No. I moved 1,300 miles away from everything and anyone I had ever known. Back then I was really tired of the same old life I had lived for 20 years. I was ready to start fresh and I did. I moved from Jersey to Florida and built myself quite an amazing little life. In between then and now I did managed to slip away to California for exactly a year in search of something I still seem to be trying to find. After a major fail I headed back to my home town and not too long after that did I land right back here. Today I live on the beach. It’s a dream I always wanted and it’s one that I accidentally (not accidentally because I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason) made real.

A few weeks ago I had a bit of a melt down. I literally woke up one day and was sick of living here. It was as if my soul was trying to find “it” again, whatever that was. I woke up feeling as though I was tired of this area and its lack of things to do as well as its age group. With its 45 and up year old crowds bombarding every square inch of this town, most of them a shade of leathery red, with pickled organs, and too much time on their hands. Any time I had tried to go out to meet people my age I was sadly disappointed. I was having people come out and visit me in a couple weeks and thank god for that, but the let downs had been so often here that I had sworn after my guests left, I would be done with the going out and trying to mingle. I would focus on saving my money and by next year head the hell out. Where to? My plan hadn’t gone that far but I had a few ideas in mind. Pennsylvania? Texas? Possibly back to California?

In the week before everyone was to arrive, I of course, ran around this town buying everything I could to prepare. I bought things that were needed, food, water, an inflatable mattress…. and I got things that maybe we’d just want, a deck of cards, Simon, beach toys. The entire time I was out and about I was consumed with thoughts about why this place didn’t suit me. I had tons of reasons to want to leave and all my mind kept doing was juggling each one of those reasons around in my mind over and over again. I had been racking my brain with the millions of possibilities and the weighing of all of my options that the night before my guests got here, I made sure to make it a point to not think about any of that while they were here.

Sam arrived on a Thursday and my sister the very next day. The entire time of their stay I had such an amazing time, almost as if I were the one on vacation. I had gotten to see more of my town while they were here than I had done the entire three months of me living here. Not a day of their visit went by that it wasn’t mentioned how lucky I was to have been able to find this place and I mean, it was perfect.  I had everything I needed within the couple miles radius of where I lived. Bars, restaurants, grocery stores, the library, the bank, everything was down the road from me. Even the beach lay a few steps away from my front door. Each day of their stay had been a beautiful day full of cloudless skies and warm calm waters, drinking nights followed by blissful mornings and then blessed beach days. Even though I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to be thinking about why I didn’t want to live here anymore, I couldn’t help it because now instead of thinking why I shouldn’t stay here.. I began to think why I should stay here.

Sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective to really make you realize something that should be otherwise blatantly obvious. Where I live, it’s pretty much paradise. I live on a nice little island not too far from town. The sun shines here 95% of the time. This is an area where you don’t need to worry much about your neighbors, a town where everyone greets each other without a second guess. I am fortunate enough to have a job where I can work just a couple days a week and afford to pay my bills and still have a little cash left over to spend on some fun or maybe just save. I am blessed with having enough free time at the moment that I can work on the things I love to do instead of constantly having to dedicate time to the things I have to do. That in itself is a big deal. Why had I woken up one day fed up and ready to move from this place? I had been given a great opportunity, a way of life so many others would die to live, why want to give that all up? I found my answer the moment I said bye to my friend and my sister at the airport today.

After having almost an entire week of company, surrounded by people who knew and loved me, I came to realize what it really meant when people say, “Home is where your heart is.” I have everything here except one of the most important key elements to a happy life. What I am missing are my loved ones. Whether it be family or friends, everyone needs to be surrounded by loved ones. It’s truly what makes the difference in life. You can have almost everything in the world, but if you don’t have who to share any of that with, what good is it? Yet, you may have hardly a thing, but if you’re surrounded by loved ones, you’re truly a rich individual. I had everything I had always wished for, except that right now I didn’t have a close circle of loved ones to share any of this with. Since moving here I’ve had no one to really go out and make memories with. These last few days allowed me to see why it was I had been so fed up. It was because I was bored of making memories alone.

With the countless times I was told how lucky I was to be living where I am, it made me see that I need to not only count my blessings and show the universe how grateful I am for all that it has conspired to give to me, but I need to also learn to be patient for all the things that I want that are still on their way. Yes, at the moment I may not have a circle of friends here, nor do I have a significant other to distract me from what it is I’m missing…but I’ve only been here (this time around) for only about 2 years, I need to give it time for it won’t be like this forever. Nothing in life is permanent and that includes life stages. Just as that can be a really ominous thought, it can also be a very freeing and comforting thought as well. I guess what I’m saying is, in time, I will make friends. I will meet people whom I’ll come to love dearly and I can then make this feel more like my home. In time I will be able to call, if not this place, then someplace, home. Until then, I must not look at the negatives, the draw backs, the ‘what is lacking’ of the current state, but instead appreciate all the wonderful things that has already been given, the beauty of life that is all around you.  It is easy to get lost in the negatives of life. It’s easy to let your mind get carried away in everything that you may not be happy with. What isn’t easy is taking control of your state of mind and embracing the happiness that is already staring at you dead in the eyes. Happiness is a state of mind and if you can take control of your thoughts, you can take control of your happiness. Once I started to realize that it wasn’t so much the environment I was unhappy with and that it was more the lack of bonding with others, that I began to think about life here on the island just a little differently.

Will I live here forever? Who knows! If an opportunity came knocking, of course I’m taking it, but am I looking to move away tomorrow? No. What I do know is that in order to see change, change must happen. So it seems I’ve got a a little bit of changing in my routine to do, that’s if I want to start to really try to socialize in hopes of making friends. For now though, I’m taking time to stop and actually smell the flowers along the way. I’m enjoying the gifts that life has all around me for me to enjoy. Slowly I feel like I’m beginning to  find “it”, whatever that is, in this land I for now call Lost.

10431899_251373765051234_1481222331_n Photo Credit: Natal Galvan