Five years ago tonight, I was standing in a UB parking lot, saying goodbye to my boyfriend and two friends from high school. When I made the decision to go to college in Boston, I wanted nothing more than to get out of Western New York. I was convinced I’d never come back. Nowhere within the state, save NYU, was even on my list of potential schools. And yet, as friends started leaving and the send-offs became harder and more tearful, I wanted nothing more than to keep things like they were. I cried a lot that night.
Five years later, I have my name on a flippin’ Boston.com blog. I need to let that sink in for a bit because even after four weeks of debating, accepting, planning and packing, I still can’t believe it. I want to laugh, freak out and cry of happiness all at once — mostly, I just want to break open a bottle of champagne. This time around, I’m a little less teary (though some of the hardest goodbyes are yet to be said and two of the unlikeliest friends just made me cry, so that’s probably not a great sign) and much less convinced that I’m never going to see my friends ever again, and my thoughts about leaving Buffalo are a little more mixed.
It’s nearly a cliche around here by now to say that “You can take the girl out of Buffalo, but you can’t take Buffalo out of the girl,” or some variant with the same sentiment — but the funny thing about cliches is that they’re usually true. Which is why I sit here know that this isn’t a permanent good-bye. I know this move is necessary, and I’m beyond thrilled to start a new chapter and take on this amazing opportunity, but I know I’m not done with this city. Ironically, I think that leaving Buffalo now will make me more prepared to come back and really make a difference around here in the future. It’ll be here waiting, and it’ll still feel like home, no matter how long our separation.
The truck is packed. The alarms for our 6 a.m. departure are set. An apartment, a job and friends (and, I hope, success) await, 458 or so miles away. Boston, I hope you’re ready for me — because, this time around, I’m ready for you.