The Hilton Head Effect
Since my last post about preparing to move, a flurry of activity has overtaken my life, and my brain is still steamy about the whole thing. I look back at the horrific amount of work it is to leave one household and move into another, wondering anew at the wisdom in it. Different house, different place, incredibly poorer.
Why don’t I ever remember the overwhelming expense of this whole exercise? The daunting and ridiculous effort?
Was it a good decision to move?
It’s an investment, my brain insists. An investment. You plan to live here the rest of your days on the earth, remember? It’s where you want to be. So plow that money into this house and this community and remember you only have so many days left. Make the most of them.
Okay, I tell my brain, huffing out my exasperation, thanking God for the strength and persistence He gave me to plan, pack, move and unpack, organize, re-orient, realign, settle in.
My house may be orderly now, but my emotions are all over the place. Change is hard. And the older I get, the longer it takes me to change
God has given me little winks of encouragement along the way:
a spontaneous signing event where I met an acclaimed Lowcountry author of women’s fiction that recommended me to her publisher, good friends that had already planned to be here on vacation, and provided our first “beach company,” friendly neighbors that have already had us over for drinks and conversation.
It is notable that in five years on the mid-Atlantic coast in the Baltimore area, exactly two families invited us over for anything, and believe me when I say that my husband and I are friendly people. We still shake our heads about that. People are different up north, and we are ecstatic to be southerners again, where the livin’ is easy, the tea is sweet, and the people are incredibly welcoming.
Especially the men.
Southern (either by birth or by transplant) men do not care about ‘political correctness’ or ‘feminism’ or whether it is offensive to open the door for a woman, they just hang their appreciation for the gentler gender out there for the whole world to see. I, for one, am quickly getting my groove back – that groove women take for granted in the south – where men automatically compliment because it’s their job; call us ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’, tell us we smell good and look good, and it is taken with a grain of salt, all in a good southern woman’s days’ work, the fruit of our labor, our right as women.
We women like those things, we do, and that is all there is to it. It makes us hold our heads up a little higher, push our shoulders back, and walk tall with a sway in our hips. It puts us in touch with how it was meant to be. It used to be called ‘chivalry’ and it’s alive and kickin’ in Hilton Head, thank God.
In Baltimore, perfume was viewed as the devil, and if women wore some, they were called out on it. People could be (horrors) allergic! Very few men attempted to open a door for a woman, because they could get slugged or vilified. I was careful to thank the few men that opened a door for me. Compliments were non-existent, as it might get a guy a lawsuit for harassment. After a couple of years of this, I began to feel invisible and decidedly gender-neutral. (Husbands don’t count, they have to do this stuff or live with an irritable wife.)
I want to thank you publicly, southern men, for the lovely compliments, the opening of doors, the preferential treatment in putting us at the front of the line in the grocery store, and helping us to the car with heavy sacks of things. The warmth of southern hospitality is thawing my brittle-cold bones.
I struggle with missing my old house and my precious daughters who lived close by, and missing LifePoint Church in Maryland. But it’s been almost four weeks, and my new house is feeling more homey, we’ve found a great church on the island, and my husband is getting his groove back too, due to the laid-back lifestyle, less crazy traffic, and people that actually take the time to help. We still stare at each other in wonder when someone (a perfect stranger) takes five or ten minutes to give us directions and information instead of blowing us off with a rude stare.
Hilton Head Island, for better or worse, my husband and I take you (God willing) as our final destination and happy place, and pledge our faithful love and devotion, at least, um, until we die and are transported to Heaven, which we fully expect to look (at least a little bit), like you.
(And hooray for southern men.)