How do you say goodbye to a group of people who have made you feel like you could do anything and they would still love you unconditionally?

I have no fucking idea.

But I’m trying really hard to figure it out without just being in tears from now until I leave.

Despite that this career, this stable life, and even perhaps, this city, didn’t work out they way I wanted it to, I have felt very at home with the group of friends I’ve made, and relationships I’ve developed here in Orlando.

While I loved living in New York for the nearly 10 years I did, there is something shallower about the friendships (at least, in my experience) than outside the City. Even though I’ve lived in Orlando for under three years, I have built some of the strongest relationships I’ve ever experienced, with foundations of mutual love, understanding and unyielding affection.

Many of my friends in Orlando have gotten to know me quite well, in the years I’ve been here, but a lot of them might be surprised  to learn that not only have I appreciated their friendships because of the companionship, but they also helped me heal and rebuild my life after leaving New York. In New York, I was first a college student, then a law school student, then an attorney, and then finally, a wife followed quickly by divorcee. My life there was built around external circumstances that dictated who I was and what I did. I ended up there at 18, committed to at least four years and likely more, as I was already considering grad school, needing to make it work.

Orlando was the opposite. I chose this city and I built my life here from the ground up, alone. No husbands, no parents, no college or grad school to help. The relationships I have now are because I chose them specifically and more importantly, they chose me.

The journey I’m about to take is an important one for my own personal growth, but I will not be leaving without the certain knowledge that I’m leaving the greatest group of friends, colleagues, and even ex-boyfriends that a girl could ask for. It’s not like moving to a new city, where, eventually, a base would be established and new friendships made, while still being able to keep in touch with the old ones. It’s more like jumping into the complete unknown, wondering regularly if these are the last close bonds I’ll ever form.

To my old friends, new friends, colleagues, co-workers, former co-workers, ex-boyfriends and ex-lovers in Orlando, you have all impacted me much more than you know and I wouldn’t be who I am now without everything that you have all given me.

As always, to life!