It happened so fast
One minute, I had three jobs: marketing assistant at a regional arts center, hostess at a family-owned pub & grill where customers called me by my first name, and journalist at the local magazine – a role which has taken me beyond coffee meetings and, as my friend Ana phrased it, literally into the woods.
But that’s another story. Let’s focus on last weekend when I lingered in the steaming parking lot of an ale house in Altamonte Springs, Florida, piling my hair on top of my head as I dialed all my employers and told them that I had to quit. Fast.
A new job has called me to the last place I expected: Orlando.
Ahhh, Florida. Home to Chick-fil-A‘s homemade iced tea and alligator attacks on suburban golf courses. In all honesty, applying for this job was a one-off. All the other 20+ LinkedIn profiles that I submitted to were based in New York City. Of course, the one I hear back from is in swampy, sticky Florida.
Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I felt was disappointment. In addition to sugary beaches and Cuban cuisine, Florida is also home to my dad’s side of the family. Visiting my new company last week meant also reuniting with my aunts, grandmother, and my cousin with her 3 adorable kids.
Not to mention, the company is just what I want: Christian publishing house. Take my love of literature and my passion for discussing issues in the church (read my other blog here) and, well…
Excited does not even begin to describe me.
But a part of me also finds this very funny. The past 6 months of transitioning to life in rural Massachusetts has been a rocky, up-and-down ride for me. Only recently have I been seeing the signs of adjustment. I’ve gotten the hang of it at my jobs. I’ve tentatively stepped into a social group at my church. I got a driver’s license last month and that has rubbed away at my feeling of being isolated and trapped.
So now it’s time to leave and start all over again?
When I worked at the pub & grill and met people who had lived in Worcester County for their entire lives, I would encourage them to travel and see the world; but a part of me also felt, well, envious.
As someone who has moved 7 times, I can’t imagine being 21 and still best friends with the girl I met in preschool. Or being a middle-aged mother and running into the man who drove my school bus in middle school at the local Wawa. It blows my mind. Can you imagine how comfortable that would feel? To swim about your surroundings like you own the place.
Whereas for me, I’ve often felt like a fish out of water, referencing slang and cultural differences from my previous home that only takes a conversation so far. I relish momentarily in being the cool, interesting new girl but when that fades, all that’s left is an 8-month-strong local still asking for directions. Not to mention, I’m always in a long-distance friendship with someone, whether it’s my fourth-grade bestie from Minnesota or my high school partner-in-crime from Chicago. So, of course, a part of me fantasizes about what it would be like to be in one place and stay in that place.
But traveling has opened my eyes to the power of putting yourself out of your comfort zone. You learn how to survive on your own. I’ve had to make friends from scratch. I’ve gone rock-climbing, attended poetry readings, and watched a soccer game at a pub all by myself. When the comforts of a social group and a regularly-visited café are gone, what remains is the question of putting yourself out there or shrinking back into the cozy confines of your iPhone.
Moving a lot and traveling a lot is a challenge to the confidence nerve. For me, personally, it’s been a way to bring out what I’m really made of. After all, what’s faith if it’s not tested?
So, I’m still going to have massive discoveries, whether it’s encountering a cat café downtown or simply tasting my first Chick-fil-A iced tea. Whatever it is, I will keep you up to date.
I am scared. But, as my dad reminds me, it’s not an adventure if you’re not a little bit scared. Here’s to turning the last page on my Massachusetts adventure. Next chapter: Florida.
Rachel Noëlle is a writer soon to be based in Orlando, Florida. Read about her here.