A contented smirk subtly spreads across my sunburnt skin as I move my board and kite bag from my bed to the corner of the room. The jostle jolts some sand that snuck inside, creating mini sand castles on the hippy looking blanket that covers the twin sized bed. I’m supposed to be creating castles in the sky, not sand castles in the Crashpad I think to myself amused. The beach is just part of me now, maybe just like flying is part of me.
God, I love the beach. God, I love the sky.
I was supposed to go back to California—where there’s also a beach that I visit on a two-times-a-day-basis, and a sky so blue, but after it rains. I didn’t go though. I didn’t go, because I just didn’t get to the airport. The excuses as to why I didn’t make the commuting flight are long and irrelevant. It’s irrelevant, because I know why I’m still in Florida right now. It’s simple. I didn’t go, because I wanted to stay.
I like it here.
I’m amazed by that feeling; ‘I like it here.’ This place is still the same place that it was two years ago when I first arrived, and all of the subsequent years following. The years where I cried every time I had to stay, or every time that I had to come back. But, it’s different now. Here hasn’t changed. I’ve changed. Somehow, I’ve quite fallen in love with the sunrises, the way this city makes you wait for yachts like other people wait at railroad tracks for trains, the daily bike rides, the sunshine, and the sea. This place will never be California, but it can be what it is…
In all it’s pretentious douche-bagginess.
With the snowbirds, assholes, and gems of humans and beauty to remind me that no matter where I find myself, there is an insane amount of good to be discovered.
Sometimes easily. Sometimes just below the surface.
I love California, but Ft. Lauderdale has nestled its way into my heart. It’s taken a long time. I know why my appreciation has moved at a turtle’s pace. I didn’t want to accept that I could like it here. I didn’t want to like it here. I was scared to like it here. Scared to have one more place to love, which would mean one more place to miss.
Yesterday, while driving to the kite beach, I realized that I could be ok with missing one more place. I miss California. I miss Copenhagen. I even miss the Philippines; a place that I wanted to disappear from when I was visiting (due to personal reasons). I’ve learned that loving Ft Lauderdale— and loving the people in it— is worth it. It’s finally worth it. I’ve met people I wouldn’t have ever met if I hadn’t been here. I’ve got my heart broken in ways I wish I would have never felt. I’ve grown, and grown up. I’ve even thought I would lose my job. There’s too much character and interesting events, all of which in there own way have been good, for me to want to give back an attachment to South Florida.
It’s so weird I know. I can’t even believe I am saying this right now.
There has not been one day that has gone by that I haven’t missed Hawaii. If I had to do it all over again. I would do it all over again. I would leave Hawaii for here. I would leave, so I could love one more place, know one more place, and feel alive in one more place. My heart and my life is more full, because of the goodbyes (as counterintuitive as that sounds).
I’ve discovered that I can hate a place and live through that, discovering a magic on the other side. I’ve seen a side of myself that doesn’t mind staying and quite honestly, secretly likes being in a location for more than a minute. I’ve fallen head-over heels for the wind and water. I’ve watched myself accomplish goals. I’ve cried myself to sleep in intense loneliness. I’ve lived through extreme anxieties and constant jet lag. I’ve got my heart broken. I’ve had and created some of the best memories and friendships here. Because you ALWAYS create the best when you are here. It doesn’t happen when you are living ‘there.’
Loving and leaving requires risking and accepting; accepting that your heart doesn’t exactly belong to you, but to the experiences you have, the places you visit, and the people who you love. You are always allowed to shelter your soul from the magic of connection, but remember, as you attempt to avoid ‘missing,’ you will create in your life a more prominent ‘missing.’ A Missing of the life that is now; the life that is here.
Don’t miss that. Don’t miss your life.
Like it here. Just try. It’s good. It’s worth it.