I drove away from Orlando on Sunday knowing I wouldn't see the City Beautiful for the next seven months. It was a strange feeling as I made my way past STP and the Mall at Millenia, heading to I-4 and then straight south on the Turnpike with no turning back. Not for a while at least. So I want to share what Orlando means to me as I say goodbye for now to the city that changed my life.
I honestly don't even know where to begin (you should see how much I just backspaced), but it's true that you never realize the impact something has until it's in hindsight. And looking back on my six years in Orlando, I have been forever changed.
This is where I became my own person. This is where I got my first performing job. This is where I met my best friends and my best love. It's where I started to believe that I could be anything I want to be. It's where I felt a true sense of community that I've never felt before. This is my college town. It's where I created my life.
From the 8:00 a.m. ballet classes with Judi, to the PR internships in Winter Park that made me feel fancy, to the makeup counter in the EPC where my favorite people have become family, to the Lake Eola Farmers Market, and the countless late nights at Scoop and Pulse and Wall Street. Orlando is my home.
It's funny when I tell people I live in Orlando because they say, "Oh cool Disney World!" And don't get me wrong, I'm a total Disney kid, fully equipped with an annual pass at all times, but we are so much more than our theme parks. We are rich in culture and art (hello, we have the largest Fringe Festival in the country and it's epic), we have luxurious gardens, and when it comes to food, man oh man we've got countless hidden gems. I'm talking about Pom Pom's and Yellow Dog Eats and Lazy Moon and Gringos and the list goes on. But what really astounds me about this city is the people and the love that surrounds it. The people of this city are why I'm proud to be a part of this community.
I'm beyond stoked to travel the world, see new places, and meet new people. And when all is said and done, I'll be so excited to come home to Orlando.
All I can really say is thank you. I will miss you all terribly.