There is a certain level of excitement one gets when going on a road trip that you don’t feel when flying. Yes, you dread sitting in the car all day, but you can listen to road trip music the entire time, eat snacks you don’t normally eat, and your journey often has several destinations.
Living on our island, I’ve found that you have to be able to keep up that anticipatory excitement, otherwise it will die out while you’re doing all of the things you have to do to get ready for the actual road trip.
First, we have to load all of our stuff into the boat and put it in bags that won’t get wet in case it rains on the boat ride over to the mainland. Then, we have to get all of the stuff out of the boat and into the car. We also have to pull the boat out of the water because we don’t want to leave a boat in the water for two weeks during hurricane season. Finally, we have to park our boat somewhere safe. (I won’t even get into the added prep work that’s required when traveling with small children and babies.) So while most people planning to head out on a road trip simply get up, grab a coffee, and get on the road, we islanders get up at 6:30am and we aren’t even on the road until 11:30am. And by the time we do, we’re already utterly exhausted.
While we do make trips off our little island to the mainland often for groceries, we have not left Florida since we got here in September 2017; and I haven’t traveled up the east coast in I don’t know how many years.
Dictionary.com defines culture shock as “a state of bewilderment and distress experienced by an individual who is suddenly exposed to a new, strange, or foreign social and cultural environment.” While I have spent a lot of time in big cities in my life, I have quickly gotten used to my quiet island life. I found myself experiencing culture shock several times along our recent road trip…
First, there were the really confusing road signs, and I had completely forgotten about road tolls. Walking into a crowded rest area, I opened the restroom door a little too fast and was startled to see people standing in line. Lines are an inconvenience I hadn’t experienced in awhile. And what on earth is Eat Clean Bro? While visiting my mother, I never noticed how loud the highway noise was. You can’t even open your windows at night because it’s so loud.
I realized how spoiled I’ve become when I got aggravated that I had to drive around looking for a parking spot. Even the positive things were disorienting. I didn’t know what to do with the lightning fast internet. I have gotten so used to multi-tasking while waiting for my pages to load. When was I supposed to go get my coffee now? I also found myself wondering where all the bugs were. I definitely did not miss them though. I was irrationally distrustful of the tap water at my mother’s house. You mean you just drink it right out of the tap without filtering it or anything?
Of course I miss my family and wish I could see them more often, but I never thought that I would grow so accustomed to island life so quickly. Getting out of your comfort zone is good for you and in this case, it made me appreciate my island life even more.
As we traveled back towards home, I realized how much I was craving my daily walks on the beach and my more active life. Hauling stuff in and out of the boat and up to the house keeps me in shape along with all the other work that always needs to be done on a rock. I’m so much less wasteful because it takes so much time and energy to get things to and from our house. I really try not to throw anything out and repurpose things when possible. I like that I’ve learned to improvise when I run out of things since I can’t just run to the store. There is something satisfying about scrounging around your kitchen and coming up with something really good to eat. It usually turns out pretty good and then I have a new meal to work into the rotation.
Almost everything in life has its tradeoffs. I’ll go without the fast internet and the meal delivery service in exchange for the stinky water and even the bugs. I will haul water and groceries to and from the boat and into the house if I can live where I can take my kids to the beach before dinner and watch them jump around in the surf and I can take showers outside while drinking a cold beer and this is my morning commute:
What tradeoffs are you happy to make in exchange for your island life?