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The Lotus Eaters

December 7, 2022

Like so many of my previous entries, I’m writing this while sitting on an airport floor, hoping to get enough charge into my cell phone that I will be able to listen to three hours of true crime podcasts though the flight and will have enough battery to call an Uber upon my arrival at my destination.

In this case my destination is not some far flung locale but to find a home in a place where I never imagined myself – the “land or the “mistake by the lake” depending on your inclination and my mood. And I am heading there from the tropical island I have called home for the past three years. While I never expected to live in Miami Beach (cue the Miami Vice soundtrack), I came to love the weather, the ample blue sky and, most of all, the magical building in which I found myself living and the magical neighbors amongst whom I found myself.

When a job in Cleveland began recruiting me, it was during a particularly challenging time at what is now my former job. I decided to proceed with the interviews with the intention of a short term ego boost from strangers. As the conversations persisted the ego boost became more robust and their pitch more compelling – a literal seat at the table, freedom to hire, and a salary that would be enviable anywhere in the world, but especially so in a city with a particularly low cost of living. There were great benefits too – engaging leadership and very smart colleagues. But still, I hesitated. Two weeks of anxiety went by – days filled with unhealthy eating, tears, and elevated heart rates. Cleveland patiently waited, telling me I was worth waiting for. It was only after a conversation with my manager in Miami, in which she crushed my hope of advancement within the organization, and my sister’s analysis that, as I always do, waiting for the cute guy at the bar who gives me just enough attention to keep me holding would cause me to lose yet another kindhearted nerd who really wanted me, that I decided to take yet another professional and personal leap.

My job in Miami was shiny and I like shiny. My team liked me and they appreciate me so much more now that I’m gone, with as many calls from them as days I’ve been gone. But I was uninspired and somehow, despite some pretty high profile successes, unable to inspire the management. I could have stayed there mostly happily for all time. But Miami Beach – that is a whole other story.

My life on Miami Beach is perfect – or at least it feels that way on most days. I have four friends and they all live in my building. Two men about 25 years younger than me, who are a couple, let’s call them The Boys, and two women about my age who are a couple, The Girls. Recently a fifth friend moved into the building and joined our circle – much younger than me, she is the most like me, single and straight, I’ll call her The Beauty, because she is. We all have cats and we love each other’s cats, we see movies, celebrate birthdays, have drinks together, and we have a weekly pickleball game that is the highlight of every week for me. Sometimes those games are capped with dinner and a few hands of eucher. After which The Boys and The Girls live their couple lives, planning their futures together and The Beauty goes on dates and lives the glorious life full of the possibilities of youth. I go home to watch tv. I go home happy in my life, having enjoyed my day, but I am alone.

As I look forward to my future in Miami, it remains the same. I am both too old or too young to be appealing to the single, straight men of Miami Beach (of which there are few) and I have not built community beyond that of my building or weekly pickleball games, and I know that The Boys and The Girls, and especially The Beauty, will move on in their lives while I, without effort, will remain in place. Yet, life in Miami Beach feels magical in the moment. My dear friend The Playwright told me I had become a Lotus Eater.

As Homer’s Odysseus made his epic journey, the wind blew him to a beautiful island peopled with contented inhabitants who spent their days eating the blossoms from the lotus plant. These blossoms instilled feelings of happiness, with no desire to think beyond the moment – no thoughts of work or home, responsibilities or the future. Some of Odysseus’s men also ate from the lotus plant and they too fell into deep, lazy happiness. Odysseus forced the men, who fought and screamed, back onto his ship and sailed away towards home. The further they got, the more the men returned to themselves and remembered their missions.

As I fly towards Cleveland and away from my magical home, my heartbeat is slowing, I am looking forward to the new opportunities, and I am even eager for snow. My heart is longing for the lotus from my beautiful beach, and I know that longing will never go away, but I know it is time for me to look to the future and what might come from leaving my beach.

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One Comment
  1. inacity permalink

    Who knew the biggest journey of your life would be the one that takes you from Miami to Cleveland? It’s scary to be brave sometimes. Remind me of that at the top of Splash Mountain.

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