This way to the beach...
This way to the beach…

Breaking all the vows I made about NEVER returning to my home state in the winter months, I took a trip home this week (family needs dictate travel regardless of weather).

I spent time with my mom. Not as much as I had hoped, but weather conspired against us on that one. Next time, mom.

I reconnected with old friends. I ate. I drank. I shopped ’til I dropped. I froze in the arctic temperatures. I slept under a heavy down comforter. I took boiling hot showers and stayed there until the bathroom was so thick with steam that I couldn’t see the door. I spent some time alone just doing whatever I felt like (or not).

I even went to the beach.

Although it wasn’t quite like Atlantis.

Lake Michigan in February...probably not going to get my tan on or my toes in the sand this time.
Lake Michigan in February…probably not going to get my tan on or the sand in my toes this time.

Then I watched a winter storm barrel through the Midwest, jeopardizing my return back to my island in the sun. Back to my home.

So, in my best efforts to ignore my possible stranding here for another week (and in the midst of a snow storm…well, a mini-snowstorm by Midwest standards), I went for a walk in the crisp winter air. Which gave me lots of time to appreciate how beautiful (and cold) this place can be.

No, it is not the Caribbean. But it is what is familiar, and what I remember from my youth. And it is the polar opposite of how I usually spend my time. And it was a refreshing experience. And it gave me the perspective I so desperately craved. And sometimes, you just need to reconnect with things that are familiar and comfortable to get a good perspective on exactly what you have now.

I left the island feeling conflicted. Thinking maybe returning home on a more permanent basis would be what I needed. But after spending time here, I realize that my home is my little rock in the sun. With the people and job and life that I’ve built for myself there.

And in order to gain that perspective, I had to freeze my toes off for the past seven days. Had to do some white-knuckle driving through some pretty sketch weather in a car better suited for a summer road trip. Had to care for an old, howling cat who woke me up every morning at 5 a.m. Had to borrow a coat and boots and gloves and extra layers to stay warm.

Forget coats, hats, gloves and boots...THIS is how I need to live.
Forget coats, hats, gloves and boots…THIS is how I want to live.

Yet I’m grateful for all those experiences, because without all of that, I’d still be wondering if leaving the island was my best option. Wondering if returning to civilization – or at least civilization as I used to know it – was what I really should be doing. You know…getting on with “real” life. Whatever “real life” means.

But now I know – with certainty – that staying in my little paradise in the sun is exactly what I want to do. And I can’t wait to get back to everything – the humidity (good-bye “good hair days”), the inconvenience (no more food delivery options), the expense (gas, food, electricity, water). Because all of that – plus mi dushi and the beach and the ocean and the laid-back atmosphere – is exactly what I need right now.

Even if I didn’t know it a week ago. I totally get it now. And can’t wait to get back.


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