I woke every Saturday at the crack of dawn and longboarded down to the coffeeshop to open up. I had a column in the local paper. Everywhere I went, I sang to myself, “I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T…do you know what that means?”

I had my own apartment. I had my own job. My gang of friends only a text message away. I would high-five the old man who lived below me. I had inside jokes with customers. I made goofy faces at the toddler whose mom I had served coffee to since she was pregnant with her. I knew where to buy individually wrapped Pop-Tarts. I knew where to find bulgogi in a predominately white town. I had taken the Florida life and made it my own. Like a gator in a chlorine pool. Yeah, this is home.

But there was one thing lacking.

Day-by-day, I sat in my cubicle at my fulltime job and…just…felt…stuck. I was bored. So bored that I asked for more responsibilities. More training on new skills. But even when I got it, deep inside, I knew it was time to move on.

So I started job hunting.

In the search preferences, I plugged in one place: Sanford, Florida. Two years later, I loosened it to Orlando. I turned down Wednesday night ramen with my friends, poetry open-mic at the coffeeshop, and women’s Bible study at my church. Just so I could devote one evening a week to job applications.

Weeks after my three-year anniversary at the company, I stood in their bathroom stall with my face in my hands and my phone open on Gmail. I did it. I got an offer. A legit job offer. But it was in Boston. I felt extremely happy and extremely sad. I have to move?

I had to leave my life here. No more spaghetti-strap Sundays on the lake. No more bulk-buying gummis at Family Dollar with my neighbor. I had to say goodbye to my first apartment. Goodbye to Gatorland. And the coffeeshop! I can’t describe what it’s like to walk into a public place and see my friends right there, waving at me.

As I complained to my friend, he said:

“If you want to stay so badly, then stay.”

But I still left. I put in my resignation letter, terminated my lease, and packed up. That was a month ago. Now I’m four weeks deep into my new job. And I love it. I work remotely from my parents’ house in rural Massachusetts, occasionally scrolling Facebook groups for Boston roommates. It’s not the i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t life I used to boast about. But I get to gorge on Mom’s cooking and I get to binge-watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with Dad.

And I’ve realized two things:

  1. I still wish I hadn’t left Florida
  2. But I love working.

I love being challenged. I love learning new things. I love caring for my career. Back in Florida, between slinging lattés and guzzling boba with my friends, I spent forty hours a week at a job that, somewhere along the line, stopped fulfilling me. I applied and interviewed for lackluster local jobs. Now I have a job that fills me with purpose.

Leaving Florida meant choosing my career over my community.

Most days I regret it. But there are those mornings at my desk, before I open Skype and start work, when I feel a small fluttering in my stomach. I feel something…something like excitement. I think about what I left in Florida. The people and the places. And I make myself believe that I will have that again. Somehow.

6 thoughts on “Why I Left Florida

  1. Hey Rachel,
    In the midst of getting married (I have so much to tell you) and everything else, I forgot to send you some Yorkshire tea and give my review of your manuscript you sent me (alongside Amy’s review). Please do email me your new address and I’ll ship you some proper tea with my review.

    I’ve ordered your new book, Amy and I are excited to read it and will let you know what we think.

    Peace,

    Vinny

    Liked by 1 person

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