I often muse that I was born on the wrong continent at the wrong time.
This is not to say that I am not well pleased with my life, only that I feel a kinship to England that reaches beyond a penchant for visiting. When I am there, it feels like home. It helps to be surrounded by scores of my wife’s family, but there is something natural, intrinsic about the moors that makes me feel like throwing on a flat cap and taking a stroll down a back lane in the afternoon.
In Florida I am loath to take strolls in the afternoon, mostly because it is as hot as the seventh circle of hell for 80% of the year, and its raining or threatening to rain for another 15%. The final 5% of the year is pleasant, and I would not want to be anywhere else – except England, or Carmel, or North Carolina. I have left pieces of my heart in all of these places. I met Anna in North Carolina, and I proposed to her in England – on the moors. We have spent many beautiful days on the coastline in Carmel, and I feel a certain creativity out there that I do not feel anywhere else.
Florida is our home, though. I was born here, and I have set down deep roots since we moved back from Virginia nine years ago. My job is here, and I am finally happy. That is not to say if we won the lottery, I would not spend more time in England and Carmel and North Carolina, but I am content.
Contentment is a far cry from the anhedonia I once thought was just a part of who I was, and who I would always be. I had a wonderful wife, a young child, and yet I was desperate for something more, something tangible that I could take hold of and claim as my own. I felt out of control, and I did little constructively to find my way back to center. Yeats captured this in his poem The Second Coming: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / the falcon cannot hear the falconer / things fall apart; the centre cannot hold / mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”
It has been over three years since I felt lost, at once like the falcon and the falconer. I was a paralyzed man learning how to walk again, and in many ways I am still learning – learning how to smile, learning how to appreciate the simple joys, and learning how to hold the center. I miss England, but I do not pine for it as I once did. When I return, and I will, I know that I can appreciate it for what it is, and not what I long for it to be.
I may very well have been born in the wrong time and on the wrong continent, but I have an English spirit about me, a spirit of humored resilience…and that, for now, is enough.
Click here for a larger version.