The Gift that is Pawleys Island

A year ago Bo and I made the decision to leave New York. Drunk on margaritas, we decided we needed a change. For us as a couple; for Landon and her support system; for family.  It felt like we discussed it once and that was all it took.  Agreement that we’d choose Pawleys as our layover to Charleston was sealed with a high five… if I remember correctly.  A major move… one laced with fear certainly… but something so necessary I could feel it in my bones. Our lease was no where close to being up, taking work with us felt very iffy, no care for Landon had been established… but… we were just done. 

I was done with the constant bus and subway trips with a crying baby to spend free time in cold specialists offices. The juggle of full-time working mom, part-time therapy mom, certainly less than part-time wife left me feeling displaced. I didn’t belong there anymore and I was even sad about that fact. The city I once loved and cherished felt toxic suddenly. In an effort to save any money we could, a nightlife was experienced once every six months.  All of this for a life we didn’t truly love anymore. 

There must be greener pastures… literally… we thought.  So cut and run we did.  After telling our work, and our friends, and our NYC family… we left. There was no new house waiting for us. No rental or anything lined up.  We figured we’d find something recently finished or close to finished and buy it.  We’d stay at his parents 3-4, maybe 5 months. How that makes me laugh now.

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The housing situation quickly turned into a new build once we saw our options. Designing something from scratch… a dream for design obsessed people like ourselves.  So we started to settle into the fact that we’d be here longer. And longer is now shaping up to be a year.  I told my girlfriends that I was setting up shop in a retirement community. A lovely retirement community- but I’d certainly never seen any young families around here.  What little I really knew about this place. As the timeline grew, so did my desire to establish some roots here. Find a little school for Landon, try to find her and I both some friends. Find a life here… and my what I’ve found so far.

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As we eased into life here, I started running to let off steam and process what new hurdle life threw our way that day, or week or month. Since we’ve arrived we’ve experienced painfully under-trained coordinators for the state, countless hours driving to doctors or therapists in Charleston, navigating sometimes three grocery stories just to find gluten free food, and ya know… living with parents in my 30’s… with my child. But.. on my runs, this town revealed itself to me… the sheer beauty of this place is startling sometimes. 

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Surmounting these speed bumps took a little time but once I did… I saw that this tiny beach town was exactly what my soul craved. What really every part of me needed.  I needed to run along water and let the sound of the ocean heal those broken pieces of my heart. We needed the quiet and peace to breathe life back into our marriage.Landon needed a change of scenery and more family to help build her up.  And to be honest, I think I also needed parents around to help revive my fortitude as a person and a mother.  I truly felt so lost at the end of my New York days.  The pace of the city coupled with a complex entry into motherhood had run me ragged. And Pawleys…offers beauty I used to only visit while on vacation.

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This town also now holds some of the most special women I’ve ever met. Friends of friends from home or NYC, girls I’ve met through them, girls I’ve met at the gym. There are so many unique and crazy wonderful women that live here. I feel like I was given a gift in living here this year.

To best illustrate this town’s charm… let me share what happened last night after dinner.  Our family frequents this burger and shake joint pretty often. Of course this being the south… it’s named Bisqit. We come so often, they nod at us, grab a high chair and just lead us out back to our regular table on the porch. The hostess smiles at Landon and warmly asks me by name how my week has been.  Although we are such regulars, I always steel myself as we enter any restaurant. Swiveling heads can sometimes reveal the good ole’ pity stares from other patrons. But last night was just smiles and more hellos. Comments on her shoes, her outfit… how sweet she is.  Another deep breath for me… reminding myself why I love this town.  And… as we left, this precious family followed us out to the parking lot.  The mother was curious about her hearing aids.. wondering if they were some sort of Cochlear device.  Hearing the Cochlear name always gives me a jolt- People who know Cochlear!  After I described them, the world’s prettiest and most eloquent 12-year-old leaned over and said “I wear hearing aids also. They are clear and I love them. Don’t worry little one… you’ll be just fine. You’re so beautiful."  Tears in my eyes, I looked up at her mother. Noticing that I was struck so profoundly by her daughter’s words, the mother said "we’re all really family in this town… it takes a village." 

It does…. it really really does. And honestly… I really love this particular village.   We’ll be here until October the builders say…and luckily this village will get to see us very often after that…. to my in laws delight and maybe dismay…. 

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XOXO,

eloise

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