Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Your Life is Like a Nicholas Sparks Novel"

The title of this post comes from a comment that was left on one of my Facebook status updates recently by a former teacher colleague of mine, who was joking about de-friending me because she is jealous when reading about all of the neat things that a life in this little part of the world affords. This comment was particularly striking to me for two reasons: 1) Because it often does feel like I am living in a Nicholas Sparks novel and 2) Because it just as often feels like exactly the opposite.

After growing up in landlocked (but truly wonderful in its own way) Indiana, venturing to the ocean maybe once or twice a year once I was old enough to realize how much I enjoyed it, living here has met all my wildest expectations. Waking up on a beautiful Saturday morning, packing a stack of library books and a small cooler and a beach chair, and driving over the marsh to Tybee for a day of reading and relaxing on the sand is as good as it sounds. Listening to the sounds of reggae pouring from a distant restaurant while walking along the shoreline under the light of a full moon, hand-in-hand with my husband, on a random Friday night after a really difficult week at work, is as good as it sounds. Biking to a park on the other side of the island for a tennis date, followed by a pit stop for frozen yogurt, is as good as it sounds.

However, that is not every day. That is not necessarily the norm. Life is still life, no matter where it is lived. Life is hard. It is good -- I am too optimistic to say that the core of it is not -- but it is undoubtedly hard, filled with mountains and valleys of elation and sadness and dullness. The beach, the marsh, the gorgeous streets of downtown Savannah; they're all amazing, perhaps healing even, but they do not take away the realities of life. Grocery shopping. Standing in line for hours at the BMV. Fighting traffic just to get somewhere you do not really want to go -- the doctor, the dentist, the funeral home. Carrying the living expenses of two resiences and spending every day with that haunting the back of your mind. Waking up to a blaring alarm clock way too early on a cold, rainy morning. The happiness that comes with the arrival of a paycheck, only to be followed by the let down when the vast majority of that check goes to bills, the rest into the bank for a rainy day. Not enough time; too much to do.

These are the angsty parts of any Nicholas Sparks novel, not the beach-walking, kissing-in-the-moonlight parts, and they are the norm.

But I am happy to live all of those moments -- the hard, the easy, the good, the bad, the mundane, the exciting -- here in this place, where the winter sunshine feels like this is how it should be; where breathing in warm, salty air can make a lot of problems disappear for the moment; where family and friends are missed terribly but a whole lot of "self" has been discovered in that process. Here, in my own Nicholas Sparks novel.

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