A funny thing happens when you decide to let go of all your material possessions. You realize that they were never really yours and that those things you do own -- your heart, faith, purpose and love -- are the things that no one person or circumstance can take away from you.
An even funnier thing happens when you decide to let go of your attachment to place. You realize that as a spiritual being on a human journey, being rooted anywhere is just a temporary illusion. The most important anchor you have is yourself.
I'm getting a divorce and having an affair all at once -- separating from places, people and things that no longer serve me and falling in love with all that truly matters. This is an interior place of peace that only exists within. It doesn't have a name. It's not on any map. This is the place we should all be so lucky to find, no matter where we live on this earth.
When I first began this process, I let my ego talk me into seeing this as a step backward. But in reality, being 40 and free of all obligations is actually a blessing. No divorce, no mortgage -- in short, no personal or financial baggage -- is a really good place to be in our country this year, all things considered.
This is also a good place to be as a writer. It's a blank page full of possibilities.
I have to be honest, my life in Miami Beach never supported much stability for me, even though, ironically, it was boot camp for spiritual growth. Growth isn't a glossy tourism brochure. Growth is struggle, wasted weekends, one night stands. Growth stumbles on the sidewalk. Growth smells like piss on the bathroom floor at Finnegans 2 on Lincoln Road.
See, the funniest thing of all has happened -- the thing I never expected to happen. Miami isn't Miami to me anymore. Nor is Miami Beach. Here on the mainland, I'm now navigating streets I've known since childhood, but I'm not attached to them. I am perfectly suspended in that peaceful place between love and detachment.
I pass by my old elementary school often, where as a little girl, I stared in awe at the big trees on Sunset Drive. I was a child and it would be many years before I would learn who I was. I still love looking at those trees -- the giant green canopies all over this part of town. But now I know who I am and I stare in awe at the boundless pages of my future, of things I have it in my heart to write.
My face smiled then. My heart smiles now.
"When the quest to fill your inner emptiness by appropriating something from outside becomes desperate, repetitive, or automatic you have what is called an addiction." -- Edmund J. Bourne, The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook
Addiction. That's brilliant. There's no better way to describe my relationship to this place. I was addicted to the idea of the beach, even though, two and half years ago, I started this blog in a process that was really the beginning of the end. I had some kind of unnatural attachment to the island and everything it represented -- a life of longing, a life of being single with no responsibilities, a life of flotsam and jetsam, minus the consequences. A life of cocktails, minus the hangovers. A life of tourism, a life of running away, traveling to and from my own life -- except that doesn't really work, because living life, you're not a tourist. A life with an "excuse" for sex, minus the real sex, the real intimacy, minus the body of the beloved, the reality of physical contact and the responsibility for another's heart ... well, I say this all with many grains of salt ... because I lived South Beach in my twenties and thirties, and lived it well. I was loved. And I did love. Loved well ...
However, I was shoring up in heavenly, gilt- and guilt-ridden sunrises -- my life was being dragged toward the undertow, with no one to swim in the riptide . . . at the end of the day. It's this time ... the end of the day time ... these liminal, transitional moments in our lives when we really appreciate who's around, right?
In my time living on Miami Beach, I have known many addictions. You may assume I'm referring to your run of the mill substance abuse -- drugs, alcohol -- but no, the substance is just a choice. What are you really addicted to? It's that and so much more. There's something about this place that creates addiction in a deeper, spiritual, existential sense, which is true of so many spaces we inhabit as individuals.
For me, the island, hanging on by a grain of sand to the vast ocean, has become a prison. This island of everyone else's vacation has become my invisible, walled-in cloister.
In my time living in this place, I have witnessed lives that were addicted to so many things ... women, addicted to low self-esteem, babies that have been born from this, children that were supposed to validate a shallow life; I've known men addicted to photographs, holding on to the illusory reality of image; I've known people so sullen who were addicted to body types instead of their hearts -- "I can't love you if you don't match up to this specific detail" -- people forever giving themselves a broken heart -- this is what really breaks my heart, actually, this ability we have to make shipwreck even in calm seas -- and yes, I've known people who didn't even know they had broken someone else's heart; I've invested in meaningful yet transient friendships that have been broken suddenly, like a twig snapping off a branch; I've known good businesses that have come and gone, like the bead and coffee shops on Lincoln Road before the gentrification tourism process (hey, it's what Carl Fisher wanted in the first place, so I'm not complaining); I've caught and slaughtered fish; I've known so many superficial details about this place, but damn it, I've also known deeper things -- deeper things running far lower, unfathomable in these shores ... and because of this, I don't regret a breath I've drawn as a citizen of Miami Beach.
But most importantly, I've seen this as blank canvas for egos to flourish and draw their own demise ... or rebirth. I could go on and on ... but what would be the point?
And this is why I can't decide if my leaving this particular geographic location is a requiem or a rhapsody. Because part of me wants to sing to this place; yeah, like Walt Whitman, I'm going to sing Song of Myself because I can, because I have the luxury and pleasure of writing poetry, prose and some such other words in this blessed island by the ocean.
And this place (which has nothing to do with the literal Miami Beach, geographically speaking) will always be inside me. You see, Manola is going to thrive, no matter where she goes -- "a little me, a little Miami Beach" -- isn't circumscribed by location. Sex and the Beach has always been a state of mind, not a place . . . the characters I have created have always been of this world and not limited to this island.
I've always argued that blogs must develop organically like life; this is what makes good writing -- sharing your experience, even if under a semi-fictional veil -- experience that is still grounded in authentic, lived life, life that is raw, unabashed, smelly, broken, half-assed, saintly yet questionable, a life that is not formulaic, but questioning, raising eyebrows always -- this life, this life on this island ... what is your life? Seriously. Your life, beyond your blog, beyond web 2.0, your life as it is, raw, plain and simple -- this is the organic fodder of good writing. And is not every man and woman -- at the end of the day -- an island?
I may be moving to the mainland, but I'll be here again. Just expect some new inflections, new voices, new locales ... the world is my oyster, want a sip?
I'm proud of my life, damn it. Join me in this plenitude, this abundance ... the ocean really is vast.
Well, lots of change going on ... "we" may be moving off the beach, but no matter ... this blog has always been about sex and relationships. Relationships with self, with others, with sex, even relationships with ... especially relationships with place ... stay tuned.
And besides, who wouldn't want Manola reporting from other locales?
"Everything is about relationships. The most important relationship you can have is with you."
"I think most of us in social media realize this -- it's not the media, it's the relationships that are formed that are most important."
"Relationships shouldn't be a mirror. It should be a fucking reality check. How can you make me a better person?"
"This I think is the key to any social media circumstances ... want to ... not because you have to."
tags: miami, seesmic, social media