Diary of a Fish Out of Water


I walked to the beach today–that was good.

I saw an angry man almost run over his girlfriend in the 7-11 parking lot near the beach–that was definitely not good.

I saw a three-legged dog on a walk with its owner–I wasn’t sure if that was good or not.

I saw the crazy lady who is apparently my neighbor huffing and puffing as she tried to blow up an air mattress in my front yard. She almost fainted from the exertion in the heat and humidity–that was not good. Then the rescue squad came, and the crew determined she was actually okay, even if she is crazy–that was good, I guess.

I saw a very dead palmetto bug when I swept out my temporary rental–that was good, that it was dead.

I felt like a girl living in a hazy dream, moving in slow motion, hardly able to speak–that was not good, but was to be expected.

RG Daughter called from a pay phone via a phone card, homesick, from about as far away from me as you can get on this planet, where she is living for three weeks for a class–that was good, the call, not her homesickness.

RG Daughter and I decided we were feeling very much the same way for very different reasons, and we eventually stopped crying and talked to each other–that was good.

I got caught in an isolated downpour while walking outside, with the sun shining just in the distance–that was not so good.

Then I saw a huge rainbow–and that was very good.


I worked a short shift today. In a way, I got the dreaded first day out of the way, but not really. It only means I will have several more “first days” as I sneak in here and there over the next week, before I am actually on the schedule.

I will be blunt: Nothing, absolutely nothing, is what I expected. This is not all bad, of course, it’s just all so different from my starry-eyed fantasy of what it would be. As a result, I am more catatonic than functioning, and this is not a state of mind I am at all familiar with, nor one in which I imagined I would find myself. I am the village idiot living in 10-minute increments, forgetful of what happened 30 minutes ago, and dreading the unknown that looms an hour from now.

Don’t ever kid yourself that moving away and being on your own will immediately cure what ails you. First, your car will break down and will not be worth repairing. Next, the friend of an acquaintance from up north will have a new love interest and a new job, and she will absolutely not be the one connection you thought you’d have in your new town. Your temporary rental house will be okay, but it will be so far away from the energy of your new resort town that you will feel utterly panicked by the isolation. You will think it has to be a cheaper town than D.C., but it isn’t, and that makes finding housing close to the downtown energy very difficult. The real estate agents who say they are going to help you find a place will never call when they say they will, and when they do, it is usually to break an appointment. You will discover an odd assortment of tropical creatures that sometimes find their way into your rental house, and you will ask yourself, since there is no one else to ask, “What the hell is THAT?”

You will replay over and over the “I Love Lucy” line that Ricky often uttered: “Lucy, what have you done now?”


My Wonderful Friend dropped everything in her work life, took two last-minute vacation days, and flew down to see me. Because it was her supposed vacation, we pretended it was mine too, and we drank margaritas on the beach for lunch on the first day. That took the edge off. Not the tequila, because no amount of alcohol seems to do that for me these days. Instead, seeing her, being with someone with whom I can laugh and laugh with complete abandon–that was the gift that replaced the edge.


My Wonderful Friend and I unpacked, sorted, repacked, cleaned, and made time for some beach time–all before 5 p.m. Then it was off to a kind-of-fun Italian place that, for now, is my oasis of pretense that I have a place to go, where someone knows my name. I tearfully sent my Wonderful Friend off in a cab to the airport, took a deep breath and prepared to again navigate the scary shifting sands of being solo. I nodded and said hello to the regulars who, the bartender told me, frequent this place five nights out of seven. The attorney everyone knows, the owner who knows everyone, and the local guy with the combination French/Italian accent all returned my greeting and offered a drink.

“You are family now,” said the bartender, who was barely keeping her game face on, as sick as she said she felt. I know I am not; I know I am light years from being family here. But how nice that a tiny glimmer of welcome beckoned on the distant horizon.


Walked to the beach, returned the second broken vacuum cleaner I had just bought, and made contact with a for-real real estate agent who actually wanted to show me rental property and didn’t need the carrot-stick lure of a future purchase to seem interested in helping me out. I was supposed to work a short shift tonight, but the water went completely out at my house, which made getting ready for work impossible. I have called out twice in two years–once, when my plane got grounded in Ohio, and second, when my grandmother died. Now, I wasn’t technically on the schedule, just going in to continue getting the feel for the place. Does this count as a call-out? On my second day? Good God. I am very ready for the mini crises of the day to stop, now.

Friday night, late

I have been gone from my life for a week. For the past several years, I had convinced myself that all was okay, and I had told friends and family the same. But it wasn’t okay, and when I finally admitted that, I moved forward to something completely new.

For the past several days, I have recognized that my new life is not okay, yet, either, even as predictable as “not okay” is, under the circumstances. This is a transition the likes of which I have never known, that I never want to feel again, even as all the pain and uncertainty is an over-played stereotype to anyone who has left a life and started anew.

Let’s just say that I know I didn’t invent this state of mind.

But I didn’t count on having to pretend with the same well-intentioned and loving friends and family, when they call to see how I am doing, that all is okay, because I know they desperately want me to be happy.

It is so not okay.

I know, I know, it will be fine. It will be okay. Of course it will. Work will be easy in a few weeks. I will meet people. It was my move, after all–my idea, my call, my decision, my strength of character, my blah, blah, blah.

But, for just one minute, I wish everyone wasn’t my cheerleader. I wish they’d just let me admit how, for right now, for yesterday and today and who knows about tomorrow, it just plain sucks.

Oh my God, it really sucks.


While out for a walk, I stumbled upon a funky apartment building that was once a 1950s motel, complete with colorful stuffed fish mounted on the outside walls and lawn ornaments all over the place. It is surrounded by pricey condos and homes, but it overlooks the water and a tiny marina.

The owner lives there: “We never sold out, you see.”

She is very particular about her tenants. “I like having professional young women rent here. I live here, you know, so it’s safe and quiet. No riff raff.”

No riff raff. Might just be perfect. But then again, so might the next place I pass by.

Despite posting this story, I am still offline. I hope to be back up and running early next week. No thanks to the cable company, the phone company, or the delivery folks–they have managed to make this move excruciating. Thanks, however, to Panera Bread and their free wireless connection, which I used for a few minutes to post this “diary.”

I would have stayed online longer to answer all the nice emails so many have sent, but my computer battery has decided to discontinue holding a charge for longer than 5 minutes. Seriously, it is a calamity every other second these days. Rest assured, however, I will answer everyone as soon as I am able. Meanwhile, I’m taking life a minute at a time.






12 responses to “Diary of a Fish Out of Water”

  1. kim Avatar

    It does suck … and thats ok, it will get better , what is that saying ?? ” Theres no where to go from here but UP?” I will be hoping for an unexpected friendship and a cute bungalow with good energy ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thija Avatar

    Of course all your friends and family want you to be happy. All the same they should be able to handle the fact that you’re not.

    Anyone who turns his/her life upside down is entitled to moan, to despair at times – be the change one’s own decision or not.

    It’s hard enough as it is for you. So don’t feel bad about feeling bad.

  3. Sharon Avatar

    Your story made me tear up a little, remembering how hard it was when I moved across the country. But it got better. It took a while, because of my wishy-washiness, but I’m still here. And I love it.

    Yours will get better, too. But I totally understand the sad.

  4. Julie Avatar

    RG, some days will really suck and others will be wonderful. After my frist husband and I split, the first thing I did was put out pictures of everyone I loved. I had reminders of everyone who loved me around my little cottage and felt a little better seeing them whenever the blues hit me.

    Pretty soon, the good moments will outnumber the sad, and then you’ll have days that are mostly good, and the hard ones will be infrequent. Just hang in there.

  5. Desert Flutie Avatar

    I feel for you. And I’ve learned that it’s ok to be bummed and depressed. It’s a natural part of life. I hope that as time goes on, you are less bummed and that life will start to make a semblance of ‘normal’ for you.

  6. Kim Ayres Avatar

    You cannot expect your feelings to be anything but extreme – varying from complete numbness to utter terror, to exhilaration, to intense grief.

    This is normal.

    And it’s OK.

    And it will eventually start settling down. For now, you need to ride them through, but do know that they will pass.

  7. Katie Avatar

    Sometimes it’s necessary to embrace the “suckiness” of life.

    Good days and sucky days happen. You’ve made HUGE changes in your life recently. It would be odd (for lack of a better word) if everything really was OK and fine and good. You’re human, just don’t let it get you so down you can’t see the sun through the trees.

  8. Lisa Avatar

    Ya know what!? Sometimes life does just suck! Yet, somehow, even through the suckiness of your week, your post shows glimmers of hope, like the rainbow you spotted. Who knows how today, tomorrow, next week, or even next month will shape up for you? It’s the journey waiting to be discovered one minute at a time.

  9. kgrrrl Avatar

    Your post made me remember moving away for a boy to a new country and new life, then 10 short months later, moving to another city, closer to home, but not home as I needed to have a life of my own. I sucked it up and pretended all was well, and about a year later I lost it. I lost all hope and joy (I took down my archives as someone I knew was going through them…but blogged about the experience, which helped) and really there was only up from there.
    So cry. Be depressed, drink lots and watch tv, then go for a walk and make up stories about the sad people around you (everyone has a story, right?).
    It’s ok for life to suck – cause life can suck.
    Embrase the suckiness and then baby-steps forward.
    I’m not trying to lecture, nor am I saying ‘cheer up!’ cause you probably don’t exactly want to hear that.
    Just remember- you chose to be happy or not in life and sometimes you have to just run with the sadness inorder to be able to hit the happiness or at least be able to glimpse at it through the dark grey clouds.
    I’m glad to hear you’re by a beach – there’s something about the ocean that calms and it helped me through some hard times.
    Wine’s great too ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. John Avatar

    For as dark as the days are, there is one thing that you need to hold on to. You have jumped into the abyss and (as far as I know) there are no bottomless pits. And you will certainly find someone there who has already found a way out and will help you. Whether is is RG Daughter, a best friend who drops everything to come to you, or all of us here in the ether, you are never alone.

    There are lots of cliches out there – several that have appeared in the comments – so I won’t necessarily repeat them, but just remember we are all here for you and we’ve all been there and we can help you find the way out.

  11. Jedi Jaz Avatar

    For what it’s worth, you have people to listen to ya. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know it sucks and you’re completely entitled. It will get better.

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