So today marks the start of the end, the end of my time in Gainesville.
I have to admit that when I first arrived here on 7th June late at night, I was not exactly in a great state of mind, as I am sure those of you who read my first blog are well aware. I had the awful feeling that I had made a mistake and that the best thing that I could do was stay a week and then admit that it wasnt for me and fly home, tail between my legs, hoping that people wouldnt judge me for too long.
But I have to tell you something, this Floridian city has taught me so much, healed my broken heart and helped me realise not only what matters to me, but why I matter.
I am staying in a quiet sleepy suburb of Gainesville, my cousin very kindly calls the “hood” the majority of the houses are small open plan single storey properties, with large yards and painted pale pastel shades. A stark difference to the old world buildings of the Downtown area with its beautiful paved streets, theatres, bars and independant stores.
I always thought that what I needed when I came out here to have an adventure was loud exciting and over the top experiences. The first week this feeling plagued me and in turn made me feel very underwhelmed about being here. I felt I should be out partying, spending hours learning new and exciting skills and surrounding myself with painfully cool people I could tell you all about when I got home and fill my facebook with albums of pictures, you know to make people I dont really know what well jealous (admit it, thats why we do it).
During the second week of my trip, my cousin went to canada, I was left alone, something that I thought I loved, HA!!! Not the case it seemed. The first two nights she was away I did not sleep a wink and decided I would check into a hotel in a busy district of the city so that I was around traffic sounds, something at the time I needed to sleep. Whilst there I realised that there was no point waiting around for things to come along and make my trip worthwhile, if I wanted them, I had to go and get them. A life lesson as well as an adventure one!
So I left my hotel room with a map in hand and I explored, I spent hours walking around the incredible University grounds, reading wonderful books, writing in my journal, chatting to people. I sat in the sun drenched grounds, I read Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and wrote pages and pages of my own novel – 17,500 words to date. Who knew I had it in me to write a blog, let alone a book! Amazing what can be achieved when we simply remove ourselves from the norm and accept that maybe the way we have been living just isn’t right for us anymore.
Learning that actually this time away isn’t about over the top adventure, it is about me, learning who I am as a person, not just a daughter, friend, boss, business woman, but as a human being. I thought I would come over here and it would be like a movie, I would meet an amazing guy, fall madly in love and suddenly see the world through rose tinted glasses. Instead what I have done is be quiet, peaceful, contemplative. I have had real silence, where all I can hear are my own thoughts, not opinions, just me, myself and I.
But I have some people to thank for my ability to find all of this, they are my cousin & her wonderful friends, people who at home I would think of as my mums friends, but here they have made me literally howl with laughter, they have offered me a shoulder to cry on, checked in on me when bloody fire ants tried to kill me! They have shown me the hugely diverse cuisines here, from vietnamese diners, real southern fried food, boiled peanuts, mung bean burgers and a micro brewery. They’ve taken me to see independent movies I would never usually have seen & introduced me to books I never would have read.
These women are an inspriation to me, they own thier own homes, are single and strong women, with jobs that they are skilled at and admired for, and such a healthy view of the world. They believe in Karma & that the solar system affects us all. But they thing that has changed me for the better is they are kind to each other, all the time. There is no talking behind each others back, they do not try to out smart each other or be the bigger better one. They support each other, listen kindly without judgement and most of all they clearly adore each other. Of all the things I have learnt whilst I have been here, its how to be kind, really genuinely kind, to myself and also to others. Something I plan on continuing when I get home. Removing negativity outwardly towards others leads to a positivity within.
I have walked through the Prairie with aligators, experienced the amazing Florida springs, seen an influencial authors home, watched 4th July fireworks, laid on an incredible beach, swam in the sea, seen wild dolphins, taught people to bake and been surrounded by love.
Makes me realise that although I love the big glamorous holidays there is something very humbling about being not only allowed into someones life, but accepted and I hope to have brought something to them as well.
I have to admit to making a mistake and judging Gainesville too quickly, something that two months ago I would never have admited to.
I was wrong. And as it turns out that’s ok, I don’t need all the answers all the time, i don’t have to be righ. Sometimes, it seems, the things we think are “wrong” gift us the ability to see all the things that are right.
I read a great quote earlier and those of you that follow me on twitter @emglobetrotter may have seen it :-
“Before befriending others, you have to be your own best friend.
Before correcting others, you have to correct yourself.
Before making others happy, you must make yourself happy.
It is not deamed as selfish but personal development.
Once you balance yourself, only then can you begin to balance your world.”
So as a bid an emotional farewell to this beautiful city, I leave with a happy heart, full tummy and wonderful memories. I leave with the lesson to “notice” how I treat others, how my words can affect the people closest to me, how much I value those people, and how easy it is to be kind.
So for now its goodbye from the Sunshine State – next stop Washington DC.