My love for Oriental was immediate. It was like the first time I ate dark chocolate. In a millisecond my tastebuds told my brain, this was good. I didn’t need a second bite to know that, just like I didn’t need a second visit to know Oriental was where I wanted to be. The weekend was filled with kayaking, good food, friendly people and beautiful sunrises. I was hooked.
“If we don’t get a place here, I’ll just die,” I told my husband on our last night. One year later we bought our condo on Smith Creek. We came as often as we could and I always knew how many days it was until I returned. The more time I spent here, the greater the magnetic pull between me and Oriental. Four years ago we moved here full time.
What made me fall in love with Oriental? If I had to pick one word to describe my attraction, it would be, connection.
Connection to nature. I start my day with sunrise over the Oriental bridge and end it with sunset on Green Creek. Neither is obstructed by strip mall, high rise or traffic jam. I paddle board year round with dolphin and osprey, and if I see jellyfish and skates it’s summer, ducks it’s winter. The water is a never ending playground where I can paddle across glass one day and catch bumps the next. If I can paddle through the marsh at the back of the creek, the wind is out of the northeast. If I smell pluff mud, it’s out of the southwest. I never paid attention to wind direction before I lived here. I drive to work through the farmland of Pamlico County. It’s expanse is similar to the water as it flows from road to horizon. Its color changes with the seasons, black when freshly plowed in spring, many hues of green in summer and fall, and brown when fallow in winter. All of this, the farmland and the water, is framed by magnolias, cypress and live oaks decorated with Spanish moss.
Connection to people. A small population and slower pace of life makes it easy to meet people in Oriental. If you see someone once and strike up a conversation, you will definitely see them again and continue to build a relationship. This is an advantage of a small town. There are people here with varied interests and I’ve found friends that paddle board and kayak, do yoga, write, read and who inspire me on my spiritual and creative paths. I’ve found a connection to many in Oriental because of their commitment to help others. There are non-profits here that help animals, the environment, children, older adults, those with medical needs and there’s no lack of volunteers to help carryout their missions.
Connection to myself. Since moving to Oriental I’ve become more the person I’m meant to be. The combination of being closer to nature, surrounded by kindred spirits, and having a slower pace of life has reduced my stress. I am more centered and compassionate in my work as a counselor, because my life in Oriental restores me. With more time and space just “to be,” I’ve been able to tap into my creativity and found the inspiration to write the book I’d always dreamed of. I continue to write in a variety of forms, poetry, essays, blogs and I’ve nearly completed my second novel.
Before I moved to Oriental, home started at my driveway and ended in my back yard. Now home begins at the Pamlico County line and stretches across the corn fields and cow pastures. Home runs through the creeks lined in river grass and into the tea colored water of the Neuse River. Home continues down the river and expands to the Pamlico Sound. Home ends where the cumulus clouds touch the horizon.