It’s Been Two Years Since I Let You Go

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.

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How a Semi-Fictitious Groupie Helped Me Decide to Move to Boston

Penny Lane“I always tell the girls, never take it seriously. If you never take it seriously, you never get hurt. If you never get hurt, you always have fun.” (Penny Lane, ‘Almost Famous’)

Sometime around sophomore year of high school, my dad sat me down on the old, slightly scratchy couch in our basement and made me watch ‘Almost Famous.’ I was a budding young journalist, writing for the teen section of my hometown newspaper, and his reasoning was something along the lines of, “If you really want to have a career in journalism, you need to see this movie.”

I loved it, every last second of it. I don’t watch movies a whole lot, but ‘Almost Famous’ is one I can sit down and watch again and again – always the ‘Untitled’ extended version – never tiring of it.

Every time I’m on an airplane, I find myself thinking of that movie. Usually, I’m trying not to think about the flight scene, the near-death experience that fuels William Miller’s story’s opening lines. But every time the flight attendants begin their safety schpeal, I think of Penny Lane (can’t find a clip — watch the movie and you’ll get it).

In high school, after watching the movie at my birthday party, a group of friends nicknamed me Penny Lane. Somehow, it’s stuck around, occasionally pulled out by those friends and a few others who know the story. And while I’ve always found it flattering, I’ve never quite gotten the comparison. Penny Lane is strong, determined and not quite fearless, but ready to face her fears. She’s up for any adventure, impetuous and driven mostly by her heart and emotions. I suppose, now that I think about it and type it out, I embody some of those traits, but for the most part, I’ve always thought that the similarities began and ended with our matching winter (or, it seems for her, year-round) coats.

So there I am last weekend, 30 thousand feet in the air, somewhere between Buffalo, N.Y., and Atlanta, thinking about ‘Almost Famous,’ Penny Lane and a job offer I’d received earlier that week. The offer was practically perfect: managing editor of a web magazine that I’ve written for since its inception and been an editor for for over a year, along with editor-in-chief of their new partnership with a newspaper. I say “practically perfect” because the job is quite a bit of a risk, not a lot of money – and in Boston. And because of all of that, the week had been filled with tears, worry and serious reflection, both internal and to others, about if I could make it work. When I got on that plane, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

And then it hit me: Penny Lane would take that job. She would take the risk. Much like my friends and family had been telling me, she probably would have said, “You’re only young once. You’re supposed to take risks when you’re young. You’re supposed to do what makes you happy.” Or she just would have made me follow her to Morocco.

Well, this job will make me happy. All the positives — especially the fact that this will benefit my career — outweigh the potential negatives. So, I’m doing it. I’m embracing my inner Penny Lane, and, with the support and well wishes of my boyfriend, family and friends, I’m taking the leap. I’ll be moving over Labor Day weekend, and I’ll start my new job that following week. I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that if I don’t do this, I’ll regret it. And living with regret is no way to go through life.

“It’s all happening!” (Penny Lane, ‘Almost Famous’)