In August 2006 my best friend and I stuffed my car with clothes and made the fifteen-hour drive to Miami. For the first week (hell, the first year), I was scared to drive in Miami, to make that fear-inducing left turn from 27th Ave onto US1.
Eight years later and I’m honking and running yellow lights with the best of ‘em (don’t tell my Dad). Exactly eight years later, my car is packed again and I’m heading home.
The thing is, home has a different meaning to me now. Virginia is my home, where my family and many friends are, where I was born and raised, where I want to raise my children. But Miami is also my home.
Miami is the second place I grew up. Not where I learned to swim or ride a bike, or attended high school (although I can tick off all of the names of the schools here and probably know someone you went to school with, bro). But in Miami, I grew up.
My first year or two of being in Miami was hard. Miami peeps, you are one tough crowd to break into, and being in a new place virtually alone was difficult. I forced myself to be social when I nervous and shoved my way into your groups. This also gave me lots of solo time in which I learned to love being alone.
I learned that it’s okay to depend on others.
If it weren’t for a friend (the one person I knew in Miami) that allowed me to crash at his place for months, I wouldn’t be here today. After being here long enough to get my bearings, I met friends who helped me through moves, illnesses, loss and heartbreak. I had friends who welcomed me in and made me laugh and taught be how to be a ‘Miamian.’ All of this made miss home a little less.
I’ve learned that friends can be family.
I have spent so many nights and weekends at friend’s parent’s houses that they feel like second homes. From throwing parties to recovering from them to celebrating holidays, I never felt like an outsider. I’ve shared almost every Jewish holiday with my friend and her family, who now feel like an extension of my own. My trainer and gym crew became my cheerleaders. My neighbors took me in. My colleagues became my family.
I learned that I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. My 23-year old self that moved down to Miami would be so proud. I moved down here by myself, and I made it, damn it! I made an amazing life for myself, one that will carry me into the next phase.
I learned that things come into your life when it’s the right time. Meeting my dream man is one of them, but there are so many examples of perfect timing in my life that show me that God is hooking a sister up:
- I got introduced to a girl who needed a roommate and she became the cornerstone of everything Miami for me. I love you, dude.
- My first and longest job introduced me to my Miami family. There is no way to think of Miami without that place and those people. I grew up there, both professionally and personally.
- I took a job that was awesome but not for me, and yet it served a purpose: I met so many amazing people, including my (mah) girls.
- One day a girl I didn’t know was given the office next to mine. And now I can’t imagine my life without her.
I learned that people come and go, and it’s not a good or a bad thing. It just is.
I am now able to see this from the bigger picture and appreciate and love them for who they are and what they meant in my life.
I learned how to drink a Colada, speak Spanglish, and how to stay up all night partying like a Rockstar. I know not to go anywhere without change or the parking app, and that a Sun Pass is mandatory. I know nothing beats a winter day on the boat.
I know that I wake up to one of the best views in the world. I also know the name of the homeless lady that lived in doorway of the building next to mine before they tore it down.
I know I will miss Miami terribly. I also know its time to go.
I am blessed because my years here left me with a second home.
Leaving Miami is leaving part of my heart, the sunrise from the 29th floor, the beach in the winter, and so much more. But because of the people I’ve met along the way, I’m not actually leaving Miami. My heart will be in Miami, just as it’s been in Virginia for the past eight years.
Thank you to every single one of you who has played a part in my Miami chapter. I wish I could thank you individually but fear I’d clog the Internet.