While it isn’t an ambition I initially contemplated upon landing on Hilton Head Island, it has nonetheless transpired through what I can only guess is the compelling though otherwise uninspired force of nature that we are beginning to blend in with the wallpaper. Granted Canadians are not complete freaks in comparison to the American denizens, yet tourists of any stripe invariably preserve distinguishing features no matter whence they hail. It appears that after almost a month of living here our native spots are vanishing and we are imperceptibly being absorbed into the local camouflage.
Routine sallies on our bicycles still take us to the beach where locals and tourists alike disseminate; however, the connecting paths to our residence are clearly away from the habitations of temporary visitors as are our luncheon detours to popular though reclusive establishments. We have insinuated the recesses of Sea Pines Plantation to the extent that the bike paths we use are not those singled out for the public but are those for people familiar with the neighbourhood, skirting some of the inland lagoons and interrupted by exclusively local roadways. The abrupt breach of continuity of some paths necessitates esoteric knowledge to complete the circuitous and sometimes complex journey.
It is a further mark of our mainstream assimilation that we think nothing of turning up at the local grocers casually dressed on our bicycles to do a bit of shopping. Our objective is so obviously domestic that there is a complete absence of the trademarks associated with short-term residents. The items on our list are purely complementary rather than in the nature of basics. There is only so much that will fit in a bicycle basket.
An indisputable sign of indigenous behaviour is that I have made an appointment to have my hair cut. Except during prolonged stays there is no such imperative. I have even made my appointment specifically with Emerson, not just anybody, additional evidence of popular alliance. And the referral to the salon came from our estate agent. It doesn’t get more communal than this!
This morning I was overwhelmed by the inherent urge to do laundry, not what you’d call the normal industry of a tourist. This is such a mundane preoccupation that its domesticity is irrefutable. There was no contest in this agenda from any diversionary outing, like tennis, boating or fishing. It was a paramount necessity and it trumped anything in the nature of whimsy. Yet another sign of acclimatization to everyday living.
When we first moved into this three-bedroom home, we didn’t instantly adjust to the sense of residential living. We have stayed in residential hotel suites before and were accustomed to sizeable square footage, most of which was generally ignored or considered surplusage. Once however there are the intrusions of putting out the garbage, rearranging furniture, hanging clothes and putting things in drawers, the inescapable sense of belonging prevails and one actually cherishes the space to put everything. The adjustment in this respect is driven by fact not fiction, always a levelling and humanizing experience.
As a complete affirmation of our commitment to our new residence we have even contemplated a short holiday to Bermuda. Sounds paradoxical I know, but it is a testament to our entrenchment in the place that we even think about getting away for a break. Plus ça change!
Finally we are becoming thoroughly comfortable in our new skin. It requires some intellectual effort to fathom putting down roots rather than seeing one’s self as merely transient. It is however persuasive that one is not about to leave anytime soon. The former household habits re-emerge and overtake the flighty nature of being a visitor. Small compliment I suppose, just blending in with the wallpaper!