Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Bittersweet in Paradise
I love the Keys. Other than Daytona Beach, where I lived previously, this is a place where I feel comfortable, like in my own skin. The relative ease of living here is palpable. Things FLOW here for me. I do my thing and no one bothers me. I walk the dog at 1AM down a dark street with a Q-beam so I wont lose her (she's a black MinPin, very EASY to lose, especially if there's a cat in the area) and I don't give it a second thought. I cruise in and out of places without fear. I drive like the locals, slowly, lumbering around in no particular hurry. I know the cops, the clerks at the market and drugstore, know my neighbors. I work in a little hospital where I can float effortlessly through any department without stress.
Lately I have been overcome with a sense of urgency, as if Paradise is coming to an end for me. I know why. It's because Paradise is not infinite. My time here is coming to an end. I just don't know when.
Why leave Paradise? Because if I stay here, I will become complacent. I won't be able to rejoin civilization again. I won't be able to work at a REAL hospital again, because it would be too stressful. Because I really have to go back to school and get an advanced nursing degree. I can't do this 12 hour shift thing forever. In a couple of years my knees and hips will be shot and I won't be able to run around like I used to. Couple that with a TeenQueen who just gets more expensive year after year, college, car, insurance looming before us like the 800 pound elephant in the room. Financially, it's just getting more difficult to live comfortably here, and while I can work 4 to 5 days a week and make extra money, I can't continue to do this forever. I've tried downsizing, cutting here and there, but it's just getting harder and harder.
Plus, we have the HB factor. Which I don't want to get into, but the crux of it is: He's got a business to run. And he can't run it from here.
The thought of leaving Paradise makes me extremely melancholic. All I ever have to do if I'm feeling down is go outside and see the ocean, feel the breeze, walk the bridge. Go sit in the boat even if it's parked at the dock. Just the fact that I wander around town in shorts, bikini top and flip-flops and no one gives me a second look is sooooo soothing to the brain. I never wanted to go back to wearing full make-up to go get the mail in the mailbox, to high heels and panty hose, to the latest handbag craze, to name-dropping. I hated it then. I hate it more even now.
I have a favorite saying: "Don't spend money you don't have on things you don't need to impress people you don't know and who don't give a damn anyway." This is the antithesis of living in Miami, where you DO spend money on things you DON'T need to impress people-period. To me this is nauseating to the core. It goes against everything I believe in. I don't want to be anywhere near this, much less sucked into this atmosphere. Yet this is what I'm contemplating.
I don't even want to think about the traffic, the road rage, the rude people, all squished together into a huge city.
I love the Keys. I love that I can walk into Tranquility Bay, swim in the pool and no one blinks. I love that I can go to Bahia Honda, sit under a palm tree and have a beautiful scene laid out in front of me-and have it all to myself. I love the fact that I have what I need here, and I don't need much anymore. I've downsized and downsized and still feel the need to DOWNSIZE much more! But I can't retire on the sailboat if I don't go back to school, then make the money to buy the sailboat ( oh, yes....and take sailing lessons so I can take it out of the dock!)
If I go, I'm going to miss this place. The ease of being ME here. My little ER, my crew, my friends. My sunsets over the water. My tan. My docs, who are a fun bunch of bananas, each and every one of them. The Keys gave me license to be ME-water sprite, ocean wench, happy and tattooed. The Keys gave me joy among all the calamitous things that happened to me here-marriage break-up, Thanksgiving in jail, financial set-backs, TeenQueen trouble. I probably would have gone nuts anywhere else. Here, you knew that the sun would set in all its glory and be back to offer you a new glorious sunrise the next day.
Sometimes you have to give up something of a lower order to achieve something of a higher order. Problem is, I don't know which is the "lower order" variable. Is it the Keys? Is it HB?
Anyway, I live every day like it's my last. I tell the people I care about that I love them, I'm good to my patients and my coworkers, I enjoy every sunset, I cuddle with the dog and cat. And I pray for clarity and serenity and the ability to make a sound decision without the subsequent need to be medicated on anti-depressants. God may close some doors, but he always leaves a window open. I just have to feel the seabreeze somehow.