I was always the girl who proudly informed everyone she would move out of state for college. I dreamed of a life away from Florida, away from all the swamps and the flatness of its terrain. I disliked the intense heat that accompanied its summers and all the seasonal bugs that would find ways to sting you no matter how much repellent you put on. All the little things that defined my state bothered me back then.
Nevertheless, amidst all this eagerness to begin my adult life somewhere else, I ran into a significant problem: Nobody warns you that the place you feel deprives you of who you could become defines so much of who you already are. So many of your memories, experiences, and traditions are tightly linked to your hometown, even if you don’t fully notice it.
When I first moved to Los Angeles, I experienced extreme cultural displacement. Although I was still in the United States, I felt like I was in a new country. The conversation topics and the fashion style were different. I didn’t recognize so many of the store names that were staples for so many of my Californian friends. And even though I met so many people with my cultural background, I still felt like I didn’t quite fit in. I felt like a lone puzzle piece thrown into a Lego-building box; I thought I would never match up with this city and its residents.
But the most challenging part of all was missing my family. I missed knowing I could be bored one second and entertained the next if I just went next door to hang out with my sister. I missed late-night conversations in the kitchen with my mom, where she would act as my therapist and confidante all in one as we giggled over bagels. I was also surprised at how much I missed my dad’s “dad” jokes, which I never thought were funny, but I found myself reciting them repeatedly whenever any loneliness would seep in. In many ways, I missed the comfort of my familiar routine and of our dynamic.
For the first month away, I secretly wished I had stayed in Florida, but I couldn’t admit it to anyone, least of all to myself.
However, the more I allowed myself to embrace these feelings of change with openness and acknowledgment that, yes, my life was changing, but that was exactly what I wanted, the more I began to adapt and love my new home.
Today, I can see that my homesickness made me more independent and self-resilient. I used to be scared of starting my life as an adult, but now I feel capable of achieving my goals anywhere. I feel lucky to be in a city like Los Angeles, with such a varied population and rich history that has reignited my passion for film and art. This move has also made me more of a risk-taker and has brought me closer to who I want to be without undermining where I’m from.
So, even though moving out of state has proven difficult and, at times, lonely, this homesickness and discomfort have made me love and appreciate both my first and current home. California is my future, but I will never deny Florida from my past. No matter what, it’s filled with all the good and the bad of my teenage years.
So, when my morning plane lands in December, and I get to hug my parents again, I’ll fall asleep in the car to the most beautiful Floridian sunrise, feeling grateful that this corner of the world is embedded into who I am forever.
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