An Everywhere Girl

Isn’t it funny how we like to classify ourselves by location? One could be a city girl, a country girl or an island girl. And just when I think I can unconditionally identify with one of those labels, I find a reason to switch to another. I can’t help but wonder – is it possible to be an everywhere girl?

After spending the last two weeks at home in rural Florida, today was my first day back in the big city. As I absentmindedly bypassed my own street on the way home from work tonight, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps I’m just destined to be a country girl. I like to walk barefoot in the grass in our yard, I like tooling around the garden picking tomatoes and blueberries with my dad and I like knowing most of the people at the grocery store and not being afraid to make eye contact with them. Even our “village idiot” is harmless and loveable – nothing like the weirdos in New York. I love that I can have Chick-Fil-A and Sonny’s anytime I want, and while I don’t drink sweet tea, it’s nice to know it’s there by the gallon should I ever want it. It’s almost a relief to only have a handful of restaurants to choose from in my town and wonderful to be able to drive to the grocery store as opposed to having everything delivered. Plus, being at home makes me realize that my parents are actually wonderful drivers – nothing like the death-wish cabbies who have recently chauffeured me halfway to my grave.

On the flight home last night, I brought home a plastic baggy full of Gardenias from our front porch, because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving them in our yard to bloom without me. Now that they’re here on my desk in New York, they’re drooping and wilted, and that’s sort of the feeling I get every time this country girl leaves home.

But then I get back into the swing of la vie New York and suddenly feel like I could never live without Fat Sal’s calzones and the speedy delivery men who bring them to me every three days. Now that I’m back, it seems unthinkable that I would ever leave this 24-hour ruckus, constant hubbub or perpetual sparklyness of Manhattan for the simple country life. What would I do without our binder stuffed with dozens of delivery menus in clear plastic dividers? I certainly can’t be expected to cook food for myself! And why would I ever need to see the celestial stars out in the country when I can see movie stars in person just outside my door? That’s a fair trade, I’d say. Plus, I can literally hit Broadway with a rock from my apartment building – I’d be crazy to ever give that up. And just when I thought I was ready to have a vehicle again, I got back to New York and remembered that car payments, insurance premiums and gas prices are so overrated.

NYC is an adult’s playground, a never-ending field trip and a spontaneous daily adventure. I am most definitely a city girl… …until Saturday, when I become an island girl. I am so predictable, I can already tell you what’s coming. I’m headed to the Bahamas (for work!) and will be spending five glorious days in tropical Exuma. From experience, I know that I will automatically want to cash in my chips, quit my job, family, the gritty city and all worldly possessions to doze in a hammock with an icy umbrella-garnished drink for the rest of my life. It happened to me when I went to Kauai after graduation and it’s truly a marvel that I came back. Hawaii is phenomenal. It smells like flowers all the time, and when it rains, it’s so clean and beautiful and refreshing that you don’t even want to go inside to stay dry. When I was there, all I wanted to do was live in a shack, eat mangoes and be a waitress. I kid you not. With no Broadway shows in sight, no noises aside from waterfalls and steel drums, and no stinky summer sidewalk stench, my upcoming trip to the Bahamas will again remind me of my true purpose in life – to be an island girl.

If nothing else comes from my lack of commitment to a location, at least I know I’m in the right line of work – travel. I don’t suppose there’s anything technically wrong with being an island, city and country girl, nonetheless, there is an implicit catch with being an everywhere girl. Every time I move to a new location or visit an old haunt, the time comes when I have to say goodbye all over again. I’ve left a long trail of friends, from Jacksonville to Middleburg to Gainesville to Atlanta to Paris to Kauai to New York to Bolivia… and every time I leave, I get that droopy, wilted Gardenia feeling until the next location reminds me why I love it more than the last. I think I will always be an everywhere girl.

Originally published on on June 14, 2007

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