I am especially thankful this Thanksgiving. We’ve been in our new home on Hatteras Island for almost 2 months. When I was trying to talk my husband into making this move, there was an unspoken fear inside of me that I would go through all the hassle and expense of moving, uprooting my life and my children’s lives, get to Hatteras and find out that I was still not happy. What if there was something fundamentally wrong with me and I wasn’t going to be happy anywhere, because of some defect or flaw within myself? What if my location had nothing to do with it and I was just doomed to be unhappy because of some innate character flaw?
I needn’t have worried. I am SO HAPPY. Every day I wake up and look around and think how happy I am that I don’t live in Atlanta anymore. I’ve said before that Atlanta isn’t bad, and if you have to live in a suburb, metro Atlanta is probably a good one. But I was never happy there. I felt like a fish out of water, always gasping for breath, hemmed in and trapped like an animal in a snare. Since moving home, I feel like a zoo animal returned to the wild, like a caged animal let out of its cage. Part of it has to do with the proximity to nature, which is a big part of why I wanted to move. I wanted to have beautiful scenery and wild spaces right outside my back door. And I do! I’m a two minute walk from the beach and about the same from the sound. I have two massive bodies of water to play in, and a beach to walk on.
It isn’t that everything in my life just magically got better when we moved. My children still misbehave. In fact, they are probably having a harder time adjusting than my husband and I, because we’re in the middle of a pandemic and they haven’t been able to meet many other kids. School is still closed here. This is also a notoriously tightknit community that is very slow to welcome outsiders, both of which my children are. Eventually they will meet friends and be accepted into the community, but that takes time, especially in a pandemic.
My husband and I still get on each other‘s nerves, and the first couple weeks were rough because we had to go through our stuff and get rid of basically half of it to fit it inside of our new, smaller house. So don’t think that I’m telling you that you can change your location and magically solve all the problems in your life. But what I have found is a base level of happiness that I never had in Atlanta. I am at least where I want to be. When my kids are acting up, they’re doing it on a beautiful island. When I get on my husband’s nerves and he gets on mine, we’re doing it two minutes from the ocean. For me, that makes everything better.
When I lived in Atlanta, I had a major case of wanderlust. I was constantly planning backcountry adventures, camping trips, backpacking trips, and little weekend getaways. I wanted out of my house. I wanted out of the suburbs. I wanted to go somewhere quiet and still and peaceful and wild. Now that I have moved, that impulse has completely disappeared. I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t even want to go off the island to go shopping. I’m so content just to live here, in a small town with mom and pop shops, one road and the beach in my backyard.
I drive on the two lane road that is the “highway” here and think how happy I am to live here. It’s so quiet and peaceful compared to Atlanta. What the longtime locals complain about as traffic is not even in the same category as traffic in Atlanta. There simply aren’t as many people around. Even in tourist season it’s possible to find an empty stretch of beach to let my dog run off leash. This kind of quiet emptiness is what I grew up with and what I needed to return to. The city wasn’t ever going to do it for me.
I’m thankful this year that my husband agreed to move, that we were financially able to pull it off, and that we found a great house to live in. There are a few things in my life that I’ve done that far exceeded my expectations (having children and owning horses come to mind), and moving to a tiny sea island ranks right up there with choices that didn’t necessarily make sense on paper but made sense for my soul.
Wherever you are this Thanksgiving, I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family, friends and food!