When you are far away from home and your family, your perspective begins to change.
You have no choice but to become independent, and you finally learn what “family” really means. You use your vacation time to visit home instead of travel, and you learn to appreciate the little things. You second guess your choice to move away, and you feel lonely at times.
But, what I have learned over the past three and a half years of living away from my hometown is that your family stays with you. They may not be physically close to you, but they follow you wherever you go. And, friends can be family, too.
(Happy Birthday shout out to my mom!)
When I first started dating my husband, I made it clear that I never wanted to leave the state of Florida. Sure, living in other parts of the country or world sounded cool, but it just wasn’t something that I felt called to do. I grew up in Orlando, and as far as I was concerned, that was a good life for me.
There weren’t many seasons growing up in the Sunshine State, but there was sunshine. A lot of sunshine. Being so close to the coast quickly turned me into a beach lover, and I will always chose a tropical vacation over a weekend getaway in the mountains.
I loved living in Florida, and I never pictured myself enjoying life outside of that comfortable, Southern bubble.
When Scott was unexpectedly laid off from his job in 2011, I figured that things would change. We spent months and months searching for the right job for him in Florida, but nothing came around. We were stumped. That was the first time I realized that I would most likely be living away from family for quite a while.
We moved up to The Mitten in October 2012 after he accepted a job in Detroit. I was excited for him to be working again, but I wasn’t completely thrilled with the move, and I never went into living in Michigan with a permanent mindset.
Scott and I had a lot of great times in Detroit. We also had a lot of hard times. We met a handful of people that I would consider family, and if nothing else, I am grateful for the experience of living there because of it.
Fast forward to today, and I am writing this from our new apartment in Brooklyn, New York.
We absolutely love it here.
After Scott was laid off from work (again) and six months of searching for a new full-time job passed by without any luck, we wanted change. After going through the hardest thing we could have imagined in January, we needed change.
We spent months going through the pros and cons of living in different cities, including my hometown of Orlando. We literally made an Excel spreadsheet and broke every little detail down. Believe it or not, it would have actually cost us more to live back in Florida (with two car payments and less job opportunities) than it does here. Since that’s not the point of this post, I’ll spare you the details. It’s a calculated risk.
Moving on to why I’m writing this post … living far away from family is hard.
Scott and I have been on our own long enough that I have adjusted to the fact that I won’t see my family and childhood friends around the holidays or even on a regular basis. I can’t invite them over for dinner, I can’t catch up with them over brunch, and I can’t attend my niece or nephew’s sporting events on the weekends.
I am currently in the middle of packing for a trip home to Orlando, but I decided to take a break and write this post. It hit me this time … trips home are also hard.
Our time is always so rushed as we drive around to try and see everyone we can, and it becomes more stressful than I ever thought it would. I feel guilty if I spend time blogging, since my time in Florida should be spent outside and with loved ones.
This trip in particular is going to be (emotionally) hard for me because it’s for a work event, and I won’t have more than two half-days to spend with family. I can forget trying to meet up with friends, and I really should cut my family time short and get to work before I agreed to. But I don’t want to.
Living far from family and childhood friends is hard.
I am excited to be working in Orlando, but at the same time, it’s a bummer that I will be there unable to make our normal rounds. The good news is that some of our friends from Detroit will be in town working the event, too! I am really looking forward to that company and spending the week with them.
That said, Scott and I are happy with the decision that we made to move to New York City. We both had a distant dream of living here, so we figured if not now, when? We took a leap of faith in early April, and to be honest, it already feels like home … a new home.
In my perfect world, all of our families and close friends that we have met throughout the years and still keep in touch with today would live here. We have fallen for the Big Apple, and we can actually see ourselves raising a family right here in our apartment. I know … crazy, right? We have one tiny bathroom and zero extra space, but it’s that beautiful.
We’re only a short walk away from everything we need (quite literally), and we’re only a subway or train ride away from anything in New York City, including Manhattan.
The list of restaurants, shows, shops, places to see, and things to do is endless.
We are certainly smitten about living in these surroundings, but bringing children into the picture just makes living far away from both Scott and I’s families even harder.
We can’t just pass them off to go stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s for the weekend, or call a family member to come over at a moment’s notice. I can’t see my own Grandma whenever I want, and I can’t attend family traditions that everyone else but me does.
Our families won’t be able to attend every soccer game, dance recital, or event in our children’s lives. That’s really sad to me. And yet, we chose to live states away. On purpose.
I know not everyone gets it, but living in – truly – the largest city in the United States is so exciting. It’s nice to take a step outside of the hustle by renting an apartment in Brooklyn, but it’s just as nice to know that the big city is always there waiting for us.
I know a big part of this city feeling like home to us already has to do with our friends here. Only a few were born in the Northeast, and everyone else came up here from Orlando “for a few years” and never left. New York City grabbed their hearts, too.
Life sure is changing, and quickly. Just six months ago, I was on the road to being a work-from-home mom, and now I’m interviewing for full-time jobs that will require a commute into Manhattan every day.
(I spent an entire day picking out interview clothes and polling friends about them. Thanks to this blog, my last real interview was in 2007!)
Scott and I moved here to pursue dreams, and we are confident that everything will fall into place when it’s supposed to. Looking back, it’s crazy to think that we were just about to gear up to drive a U-haul (with three pets in tow) just a month ago.
Life is never short of adventures or surprises, that’s for sure.
Well, I guess that’s it for now. I need to get back to packing, and I appreciate you making it through my rambles. In short, I miss being close to family and childhood friends, but I feel like we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We have received so much support through our decisions, and we are very grateful for that.
To my friends in Orlando that I won’t get to see this week (even though we are there working for twelve days) … I love and miss you more than you know!
See you from Florida!
Questions of the Day
• Have you ever voluntarily moved away from your family? What do you miss the most?
• If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?