So for those of you that have read Allegedly, you’d know that Matt and I rode off happily into the sunset in the last chapter. Well, technically we headed East, into the sunrise, and sadly, Maya didn’t make it with us.
Matt and I have been wanting to move to Florida for so long now, and after I left my job, we just stayed in Victoria, Texas because we were comfortable. We had already sold the house in San Antonio, but we were still close to the ranch. We liked the other people in our RV park, but it was a hassle for Matt, because it was over 2 hrs to the closest airport, and he travels almost weekly. Then, our friends started to leave the park, and Matt’s work started talking about dividing his territory. He could stay with Texas/Louisiana/Oklahoma, or get Florida/Tennessee/Georgia. It was just the push we needed. We had no reason to say in Victoria, and I dreaded the thought of moving back to San Antonio. So we spent forever looking for a new RV park we liked. We had sold our house already, and lived full time in an RV. People think this means you can just pack up and move anywhere. In theory it does. In reality, not so much.
Matt really wanted to live somewhere between Miami and Ft Lauderdale. Each has a good airport, and both are big cities with lots of stuff to do. So that’s where we started looking. I’m amazed at some of the RV parks in Florida. Most were built back in the days before RVs had slideouts, so the slips are tiny. Then, in winter, they pack them in like sardines. Some RV parks double people up. The amount they charge in winter is astronomical. Some RV parks in South Florida charge as much for a tiny RV slip as an actual apartment. It’s literally just a tiny piece of land. Many of them aren’t even concreted. Miami and Ft Lauderdale fill up with French Canadians over winter. People reviewing parks said if you don’t speak French, forget it. They’ll actively exclude you. Then, the majority were either right next to a train track, or in super sketchy areas.
Matt and I drove to almost every single RV park from Islamorada in the keys to Boca Raton, and didn’t find anything we both liked. We almost gave up. Then, I found a place online that wasn’t listed in the RV guides. It was up further north in Palm Beach, which Matt had originally considered too far north, and he wasn’t sure of the airport there. But I knew it was meant to be. It was right off Australian ave. It was literally a sign. I had him look at the flights in and out of there, and he was satisfied it would work as his hub.
I had just finished reading “The Official Preppy Handbook” and it assured me that Palm Beach was THE place to be. At least in Winter. Apparently I’m supposed to summer in the Hamptons, or Europe.
So on his next trip to Florida, Matt checked out the RV park here, and it was ok. So we set a date, and we moved. We miss our friends, but, I’m so happy here. I’m glad we didn’t find what we wanted in the other cities first.
We are actually in West Palm Beach, which someone told me I should never mention to anyone out on “the island” but in reality, no one has battered an eyelid when I tell them we’re in West Palm, and not in Palm proper. Most are fascinated that we live in something smaller than their pool house. The island is absolutely gorgeous. Apparently it contains the top 1% of the nation’s money, and the top 2% of the world’s money. I told Matt I could see why. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. I said “If I was a billionaire, I’d live here” to which Matt replied, “you’re not even a millionaire, and you DO live here.”
He’s right. We might not live in a $50 million dollar house on the beach, but I live in an RV that I love only 5 minutes away from it. I have no desire to live in one of those huge houses. Or any house again for that matter. The RV life is so simple and easy. It has everything we need, and nothing we don’t. I don’t have to spend hours cleaning (or hire a maid) and the little bit of gardening I do is because I want to, not because I have to. We got lucky and have the biggest RV slip in the park, and I have a veggie garden, and even made a tiny zen garden. We’re so close to the airport that Matt calls me as he lands, and I make it to pick him up before he’s even outside. Thankfully, as close as we are, we’re not under the flight path. Some of those big houses are though…
I drive out to the island everyday to go workout. I found a beautiful place that does barre, yoga and pilates. They do spin too, but me and cardio aren’t friends. I try to go to a class everyday Monday to Friday. The people are super nice, and even though they all drive Land Cruisers and Porsches, they all think my lifted Jeep Wrangler is awesome. (It is) I’m not trying to get a supermodel body, I just want to get healthy, and it’s happening slowly. Barre is so much harder than I ever expected it to be. It’s harder than CrossFit was. I really enjoy it though, and Matt thinks I always look happier when I go. I’ve met some really cool people there. Even some that I have weird small world connections with. (Who would have imagined two people in a pilates class in Palm Beach would have both been interviewed by Tracy Grimshaw!) There’s also a bunch of expats here, and I’ve even made friends with another Aussie. One that I would have been friends with even if we both still lived in Australia. -Hey Maggie!
The restaurants here are amazing. There’s every kind of food you could think of, and it’s all good. Downtown West Palm Beach has CityPlace and Clematis St, which are both super busy and filled with shopping and restaurants. We’ve found a few favourite places, but are still trying everything else. We even found a cute little hangout we both like called Camelot. It’s a bar, but they also do a member’s thing. Palm Beach is full of members only clubs. We can’t afford The Breakers or Mar-a-Lago, (seriously, they’re both over $100k just to apply, then there’s the yearly fee) but I totally joined Camelot, just cause I could. (It was $100 a year) They gave me a fancy metal membership card, and now I feel totally preppy, belonging to a club in Palm Beach. 😉 While Palm Beach is very seasonal, and almost empties out in Summer, (everyone really does go to The Hamptons) West Palm Beach is buzzing all year long.
We still enjoy going down to Ft Lauderdale and Miami. Matt has to go down all the time for business, so I’ll go along some days. They are both fun to visit, but I don’t think I’d like living full time in Miami. Miami is super fast, flashy and very nouveau riche. Also, the traffic sucks. Palm Beach is old money, and everyone is super laid back and totally charming and chilled. Bonus; no traffic, unless you get caught by the drawbridge as someone sails their mega yacht through the intercoastal…
So even though we majorly downsized our life materialistically, I think we did a major upgrade spiritually. My quality of life here is so much better. I’ve never been happier. I’ve never enjoyed living somewhere so much. I absolutely love it here, and I’m grateful that Matt was able to move us here. The dream of living in Florida not only happened, but turned out so much better than I ever imagined it would.
So, if there’s something you think would make you happier in life, do it. Just go for it. Maybe you adjust your expectations, or make compromises. You might find that you give up something that didn’t make you happy anyway, in return for something that gives you so much more pleasure. I have zero regrets about giving up our big house in San Antonio. I’m living large while living tiny. The trade off is totally worth it. I’m not suggesting you move to Palm Beach, but go find the place that makes you happy, and just make it happen. Be flexible with your expectations. The thing you might have thought of as a compromise might end up being the thing you end up loving the most.
And just for the record, even if I was to become a millionaire, or even a billionaire, I’d still pick Palm Beach. It’s my happy place. I think the only difference is I’d pay off someone in the council to let me park the RV out on the island. Or build an RV park out there… Or live in someone’s pool house. Then again, I’m so close right here where we are, there’s not much point. Except to make Matt happy cause then he could walk to the beach instead of driving there.
Most of these pics below are from my Instagram, but since some people don’t use it, I figured I’d share them here, so you could see how awesome this place is. If you are on instagram, go follow me (@Shrimptank) so you can see all the other amazing stuff I didn’t include here.
Today I was googling around, seeing if there was any new reviews on my book, Allegedly, and I found an interesting forum thread, that was started way back when the allegations first came up in Woman’s Day and A Current Affair.
Back in the day, these kinds of forums really tore me up. So many people discussing my life, which I accept is part of going public. There were so many judgements, name calling, and in the case of this thread, people getting pretty stroppy with one another. Back then, being in the center of it, I mainly noticed the negative comments. Today, six years later, I can read these, and see all the positive ones. I can even laugh at the douchebag who said that I was an actress, and therefor, anything I say or do must be a lie. I guess one of the main things I’ve learnt over the last few years is that a person’s opinion shows more about them than it does about me.
Sometimes when I come across these old threads, I wonder if the people who wrote them ever look back on the things they wrote back then? Do they look back and wonder what they were thinking at the time? Do the ones who stood up for me feel glad that it did go to court, and justice was served? I hope they feel proud they stood up for someone else. I also wonder if the ones who think that anyone who speaks up publicly are only after money and fame have since experienced something in their life that could teach them some empathy, or if they are still the sad, closed minded people they were back then?
Either way, I’m glad I am at the point that I can see these things, and it no longer upsets me. As shitty as the whole process was, I’m glad I did it. I’m even more happy that I was given the opportunity to write Allegedly, and share MY story. The one that wasn’t told in the media. Even better, I love all the messages I have received since, from people who have read it. Before writing it, I knew that many of us had shared journeys. So many of us had experienced the same things, but because of the silence surrounding abuse, we didn’t share it, and we didn’t know how similar we all are. I have so many people telling me that they experienced similar things, similar journeys, whether it be a parent that ignored them and the abuse, or the feelings of loneliness, or the doubts of others. We are all so much more similar than we ever thought, and that is comforting. We aren’t alone. We have others who can understand us, who know what we’ve been through, and who we can talk to.
I hope one day you’ll be able to look back at things that were painful, and no longer feel that sadness. That you know that others are here for you. That I am here for you. That time really does heal all wounds.
Most of all, whatever you’re going through, ignore the douchebags who say shit about you. You know the truth, and in time, they will too.
A lot of people have asked how I made it through the last few years. Going public with my story was pretty tough, and there were days I wish I had never spoken up. I know many other people have gone through similar thoughts, after they found their voice, and decided to speak up.
I didn’t put it in the book, Allegedly, because I didn’t want the Negative Nancy’s, or certain people’s lawyers to try to twist my words, and claim that I was putting all this out there to get my own TV show. Yep, the lines of questioning in court has made me very careful about how or what I say things these days, because anything you say can and will be twisted to use against you in court.
However, I think it’s an important question. There are very dark days, and sometimes, you need something to get you through. Some people have religion. I’m an atheist, but I can absolutely see how having faith in a higher power is essential for some people. I can see that some people get great comfort from their belief in a God, and how they can talk to that person, and can find strength to get through the dark days. If you have a deity that brings you comfort, then power to you. Hold on to that.
I don’t believe in a God, although I was going to a Buddhist Temple for a while around the time I went public. I didn’t talk to Buddha, but I found great comfort in talking to my dog, Maya. The great thing about animals, well, dogs anyway, because cats are totally judgemental and aloof, is that dogs will listen to you all day long. They know when you’re sad, and will always be there to hug you and give you kisses, and let you cry it out, without talking back. It’s like talking to a God, except they’re right there, and you can pet them while you do it. Sadly, Maya died while the book was being published, and I grieved more for her than I ever have for any human. Dogs are special.
Sometimes you need more than just an ear though. You need someone to look up to. Someone you can aspire to be. Sometimes you need a hero. Someone who went through some serious shit and came out the other side a better person. For me, that was Ellen.
We all look at Ellen DeGeneres today and see a super successful talk show host, and the voice of Dory, that’s happily married to Portia, and is essentially a bubblier, skinnier version of Oprah. But she wasn’t always the amazing Ellen.
Back in the day, Ellen had a sitcom, called Ellen. In 1997, she came out on an episode of Oprah as a lesbian, and then her character on Ellen came out as a lesbian. She was the first openly gay person playing a gay person on TV. This was back before people were open minded, and after a season, Ellen was cancelled. Nobody cares if you’re gay/lesbian/bi-sexual today, but back then, it was still shocking to people. Ellen was a pioneer. She came out and proud, but being the first, it was hard. She took a lot of hits. She has said that when she came out, she didn’t expect it to be as big a deal as it was, she just wanted to live her life as her authentic self. For a while, that was all anyone associated her with. She went back to stand up comedy, and then eventually, she got her own talk show. We all know and love Ellen these days, and I don’t think anyone thinks twice about her being a lesbian – except for the people who are now able to come out and be loud and proud about it, thanks to Ellen paving the way for them to do so.
On my hard days, I would think about how when I spoke up, I was one of the first to do so so openly in the Australian arena, and like Ellen, people weren’t quite ready for it. But I hoped that one day, I would be that pioneer that paved the way for all those behind me to speak up and give them a voice, and nobody would question those people like they did me. They would just be accepted. I also hoped that eventually, like Ellen, I would end up happy and successful, and I would no longer be associated with only that one subject.
It’ll probably still be a few years till people will feel comfortable with me being on TV doing anything except talking about that subject, but, I am happy now. So I’d like to thank Ellen for being my inspiration for the last few years. I hope all of you can find your own Ellen, and your happy place at the end of it all.