Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summertime, and the Livin's Easy

Okay, so it's not technically summer yet, but it feels like it in Knoxville. And life is pretty awesome.

I've been living in Knoxville for just under a month, and I've already managed to explore the mountains, find a Chinese doctor, go on a few dates with a guy I met while shopping, rehome a starving but tame cat who was trapped in a shed, attend a few Meetup group events, find a real estate agent, tour a couple dozen homes for sale, and—drumroll please—buy a house!!!!!

And somehow I've accomplished all that while in the throes of a babesia flare.

Hi, I'm Leila, classic overachiever. Restless go-getter. Anti-procrastinator. When I'm not completely laid out with fatigue and encephalitis, I'm trying to conquer the world. 

On the outside it may appear that I'm recovered, even healthy. And while I've reached a moderate level of functionality and stability in my life, I'm still not where I'd like to be. ("It" being "remission" since the Lyme never fully goes away.)

Here's what's going on these days in the cellular mass that is me:

Lots and lots of fatigue, usually remediable in the short-term with coffee or tea; sporadic brain fog; mood swings; nausea; anxiety; bladder spasms; sore kidneys; sore spleen; unstable blood pressure; occasional fevers; headaches.

Hey, it's really not that bad. I have Tennessee to thank for an overall improvement, at least in part, since I'm happier and more at peace than I ever was in California. Mind over matter—it seems to play a big role. More on this geographic area in a moment.

I feel very, very blessed for the way things are turning out in every aspect of my life. I don't want to sound braggy—I just want to share my excitement with the world! I want to shout from the rooftops! 

I wake up every morning happy to be here in Knoxville, happy I have my camper, my kitties, my life. No matter how sick I feel, I'm beyond grateful for every day, every experience. I finally have a good relationship with God, after a long time spent shutting Him out. I feel like my imperfect health isn't gonna stop me from finally living the life I want and deserve.

When you put out positivity, it comes back full circle. One place it can be found is in the people we meet. 

And I've met some truly remarkable people in the short time I've been here so far: Patricia, my sentimental and maternal real estate agent; Sara, a mostly-deaf graduate student with a shaved head whom I befriended at Starbucks; Mark, an empathetic and passionate pre-nursing student who works at the local grocer; and of course, my RV "family" of eccentric, loony, and protective full-time campers.

I expected this transition in my life to be harder. I expected more doubt. More validation-seeking. I thought I'd feel lonely, lost and confused as I tried to find my place and settle in. But things have seemed to transition flawlessly, even with Mother's Day and Memorial Day weekends spent sick in bed. 

I'm really awe-struck, in a state of some level of disbelief, at how everything has fallen into place so quickly and easily. I know this is where I belong. I never had this feeling in Texas or California. Never.

Moving to California in 2003 was especially challenging. I remember it vividly. I spent the whole first year struggling in one way or another and questioning whether to move back to Texas. There was no honeymoon period in California—from the beginning it felt vastly contrary to the "California Dream" I had imagined.

Ten years later, I'm older, wiser, really quite a different person.

Knoxville is everything I thought it would be and so much more. Having lived in Austin, Texas (four years) and the San Francisco area (ten years)—both popular cities among the young and adventurous—I can say that Knoxville ought to rank up there with Austin and SF.  I don't know why it doesn't. 

Knoxville is conveniently located to the Midwest, South, and East Coast. The city is chock full of rivers, lakes, parks, and hiking trails (with a special outdoor focus on water activities) and surrounded by majestic, green Smokey Mountains. 

The west side of the city boasts a wide array of local and chain restaurants, and many grocers carry local farm-produced vegetables. A mid-sized and highly rated university takes up a good portion of downtown Knoxville, with several other colleges in the area. I've heard that the job market is good too with many employment opportunities in the area. 

The winters are generally mild with very little snowfall, and the summers aren't as excruciating as the rest of the Southern states. Tornadoes tend to occur to our West and hurricanes occur to our East. Politically speaking, Knoxville is mostly conservative—and Christian, but not as extremely as the Deep South. And times are changing, so a younger crowd is moving in and shifting the culture. 

My prediction for Knoxville over the next twenty years is lots and lots of growth. Expansion. It's still a small city with farm land taking up much of the surrounding counties. Knoxville is the Austin of the 1980s.

Now I have a house to look forward to moving into at the end of this month—an amazing little house that I searched for all over Knoxville with a very patient realtor until it was found. I can't believe I found it, and it was such a bargain! As long as the mold and other inspections pass next week, it's a go. 

For the rest of this month, you'll find me either chilling in my RV, dipping my toes into the Tennessee river, socializing with the locals, going on a mini-hike, shopping at a home improvement store or shopping at one of the local health food stores.

1 comment:

  1. I am so very happy for you, Leila. I can hear it in your posts of FB and in this especially. I love it!!! I am thrilled for you. <3