Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I’m moving to South Carolina, y’all

I was born in Oregon. I was raised in Oregon. I went to college in Oregon. I know how to properly pronounce Oregon (it does not rhyme with lawn), Chemeketa, Aloha (not the Hawaiian way), Coos and Willamette. I know that in Portland, the street Couch rhymes with pooch. I've got Palaniuk, Groening and Van Sant pride, as well as Tonya Harding shame. I cringe when someone throws something recyclable in the garbage. I wear glasses and have fair skin and I know people who throw secret, underground restaurant parties. I love pinot noir (when I can afford it). I’ve always lived in places within a few hours’ drive from mountains–and I’m talking about real mountains. Big ones. Crusty, white volcanoes

And by the end of the year, I’m moving to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It’s a small town, not even 35,000 permanent residents, but it sees nearly 15 million tourists every year. Some are golfers, some are partiers. I’ve never been there. I don’t have a job there, and I don’t know anyone who lives there (yet).

As I was leaving work today, a co-worker stopped me.

“Is it true you’re leaving?”

“Oh, yeah. You heard.”

“Tell me it’s not for a man.”

“It’s for a man.”

She shook her head. “Don't do it.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, it never works out. You’ll be back.”

Well, I don’t know that I agree on the “never works out” thing. I’m sure, once in awhile, it does work out. But I’ll admit it; there’s a good chance she’s right. If you define “working out” as “staying together until one of us dies,” then sure. If those are your standards, there’s a solid chance we’re not going to be checking off the box marked “WIN!”

But I’m not looking at it that way. I’m looking at it this way: Many of the most interesting people I know, at some point, took up and left. They went far. They did something scary. It didn’t always pay off immediately, but they sure as shit learned heaps.

I’m about to do something scary. A move like this is something I chastised a friend about when she did a very similar thing (different Carolina), and guess what? It didn’t work out. He broke up with her a few months later. And she’d been with her honey for several years. Me and Roommie? Just one year under our belts. But guess what else? My friend who ran away with her man? She loves where she ended up. She’s happy with her new friends, her new job, and her new life.

(And of course I could subject you people to my justifications, relationship-wise. I could list the amazing qualities of this person, the kindest person I’ve ever known, and the amazing qualities of this relationship, the healthiest relationship I’ve ever known, but who wants to hear all that nonsense?)

So now, this blog, which was once going to be about running, is going to be about running away with someone.

Rather than letting myself be sad about all the things I’ll miss, (there’s plenty of time for that) I’m excited. It’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be super hot and humid so I’ll probably have to wear my hair curly all the time. There’s a chance, if I get a job first, that I’m going to have to drive across the country, just me and my dog. I haven’t even met Roommie’s family, and I’ll probably have to live with them for awhile. I mean, I’ll be the tattooed girl from Oregon, instead of just, “Oh, she looks like she’s from Portland.”

Am I going to have to start referring to The War of Northern Aggression? I don’t know! Will I be shocked by the new and interesting ways foods can be deep-fried? I hope so! Will it be 70 degrees on Christmas? Good chance! Am I going to be unable to find work and eventually go bankrupt? Maybe!

Things I’m excited for: Watching the sun rise over the ocean. Land so flat your gas mileage is great and biking everywhere on a single speed Schwinn (mine is purple) is totally possible. Living near a bathwater-warm ocean. Changing the industry I work in. The super-long growing season. Joining Roommie’s 92-year-old grandmother’s book club. Low cost of living. Fireflies. Visiting Katie Ett in New York (I’m not kidding, lady).

This morning, I was at my dentist’s office, and I told them I needed to schedule some work I’d been putting off. I told them we still had some time, as we’re planning to be in South Carolina by Christmas. The dental assistant, a woman who’s sucked saliva out of the corners of my mouth with a tube twice a year for the last five years, got wistful.

“I used to live out there,” she said. She lived two hours away, near Fort Sumter.

“You’ll have a twang after a couple of years. Just you wait. I worked at it and hid mine after I left because I got made fun of, but you’ll get one.”

She’s now probably in her early 60s. While she polished my teeth she told me a story about skipping school with her friends and heading over to Myrtle Beach when she was a sophomore in high school.

“The first time I streaked was in Myrtle Beach. My boyfriend was so mad, when he saw me going down the main drag, naked, on some guy’s shoulders,” she said.

“I told him, ‘You drink all day and then take acid and see what you do.’”