As I sit at Starbucks, the main source of income and social activity for me the past 9 years, I think about the many stores I worked at, the many people I’ve met, and the different areas of the country I lived in or visited in. I only have a few more shifts left before I jump without that safety net to catch me. (Read: Cutting The Apron Strings)
People come and go in your life. I lived in New York for 28 years of my life, but still, friends and even family would drift in and out of my world — no matter how close they lived. That’s okay. I don’t have any hard feelings. I don’t think they care any less. Life happens. Time passes. I hope the people who have graced my life understand my side of things — my need to leave New York and explore. I’m a free spirit and have this desire inside of me to explore — the world, my creativity, new people and experiences. It doesn’t mean I don’t love and appreciate the folks I have known or met along the way.
If I have been lucky enough to meet you, just know, you will always be part of my soul. You may find traces of yourself in a character of mine or I can be swimming with wild dolphins in the Bahamas and think of some funny story you told me about snorkeling. Goodbyes are never easy. The folks that I have met in Florida this past year see the excitement on my face and hear it in my voice when I talk about leaving Starbucks and exploring this wonderful country of ours for the next 6 months. They tell me they’ll miss me, and I say the time, but I can tell they don’t believe me.
It took me a long time to make friends in Bradenton, Florida. There is a different, more reserved culture here than I’m used to. For a while, I didn’t think I’d ever like anyone I worked with or met on tiny Anna Maria Island. That has changed, though. I have met a handful of people I call friends. We are all very different, but that’s what is great. I learn from our differences and I appreciate some of the qualities in them that I lack. So yes, I am sad to not be staying long enough to see what these friendships would have grown into. At the same time, I know in my heart that this particular location has nothing to offer me. Generally speaking, the people I’m surrounded by are either retired or stuck in a life rut I wouldn’t want to be sucked into.
My 76-year-old roommate told me I came to Florida as a girl and am leaving a woman. I don’t particularly agree with her statement. For one, I think I will always be a curious, bright-eyed girl who looks forward to silly things, like a premiere of a teen vampire drama, which I will probably be behind on the entire time I’m traveling. I also think I was already a “woman” when I moved. Carolyn didn’t know me before, so I don’t think it is an accurate assessment. I do agree that I have grown and grown-up more, like I do every year, and after every big new experience. And maybe I am a tad more take charge and a smidge more aggressive than I used to be. Carolyn and my co-workers at Starbucks have rubbed off on me in that way, and that is a great thing for my passive (sometimes passive-aggressive) nature. I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to Anna Maria Island; maybe it will be my writing retreat. Who knows? It is a great little escape, just not home.