Dear Coastal Living Magazine:

With the utmost respect, and fondest feelings, I write to say it is time we parted ways.

I feel such a coward writing to you now, after all we have been through together, and after everything you have taught me over the years: cooking lobster three ways, packing the perfect picnic tote, where to find the best bays for beachcombing. It was only you, after all, who had faith in my ability to truly live a coastal life, even deep in the Midwest. I owe every stripy linen throw, every starfish-festooned welcome mat, every porthole vanity mirror to your patient, stylish guidance. So you would certainly be reasonable to wonder why I haven’t the courage to speak to you in person, or at least to call the 888 number for your customer services department.

I feel wistful, and slightly ashamed, when I remember how it all began, several subscription cycles ago. I felt aimless, yearning, wandering the plains, searching for something to cure my land-locked ennui, to inspire me not only to embrace life, but to grab hold of it and never let go, like a limpet clinging to the faded-pastel hull of a windjammer beached artfully in front of a Florida Keys cottage and styled with a selection of gaily-hued sarongs. When I spotted you, sitting coyly amongst the other discount subscription offerings in a charity mail-out, I felt as though the sun had finally risen and was shining on me, after darkest winter. Forgive me — I was so young, so naïve! — but I immediately began to make plans for our future together, our Hamptons-inspired interiors, our cocktail & ceviche parties, our nautical-but-nice wardrobes.

Yes, I was full of the joys of summer. I should have remembered that the cold, windy realities of autumn inevitably follow.

I’m not sure when the doubts began to creep in. It might have been the pink flamingo ornaments that sat awkwardly on my Noble Fir Christmas tree. It might have been my attempts to use oyster shells as coasters. I only know that at some point this winter, I looked at my shoe rack full of huarache sandals and then at the snow outside on my rattan patio furniture and thought: Enough.

I can no longer pretend Kansas is Kennebunkport, or that you and I have anything at all in common. For me, that means going cold turkey: no more sisal bedsheets, or sand dollar wind chimes. And absolutely no more Thanksgiving luaus.

I know you will not want to hear this. I know that while you have no trouble escaping, retreating, and getting away from it all, you hate to say that final, everlasting goodbye, which is probably how I ended up on auto-renewal. You might suspect I’m after a friends-with-subscriber-benefits thing with Atomic Ranch, or that I’m getting ideas above my station about Architectural Digest. Please believe that none of this is true, and that secretly, I have always known I’m not good enough for you. I’m the Before photo in your cottage kitchen update. I’m the beach house love seat — but without the vibrant throw pillows. And while I will age, and grow weathered, in this land of four seasons, you will remain bright and colorful, your skies ever sunny, your mai tais always sparkling.

Farewell, my eternal summer. Know that you will remain forever in my heart, and for quite a while in my guest bathroom.

— NL