Tomorrow is my one year anniversary of moving to Baltimore, or rather, my Balti-versary. This blog’s been running for quite some time now, although it’s hardly regular, sometimes only one or two posts a year. The initial premise of this blog was to find Disney magic in every day life. I never meant Mickey Mouse and pixie dust; I wanted to focus on finding those moments in life that had the ability to be just as “magical” as an end of day firework viewing. In truth, this year has been filled with those moments: time spent with old friends, with rarely seen family, with complete strangers; lessons I didn’t sign up for, and results my old self could not have imagined. This year has been one of Discovery, and, quite frankly, sometimes, one of depressing loneliness - but that’s ok, because there’s a lesson to be found in that as well.
So, in a not-so-brief recap of the year, these have been my adventures, through a long list of new lessons:
- Elevators and Ride Shares are the best way to learn about the world and the people around you. I don’t give opinions in cars or elevators. I stick, as Sense and Sensibility suggests, to discussions on the weather. But, I’ve found that opening the discussion to something as unifying as the weather, can open up some of the best, most thought-provoking conversations. This is how I’ve learned about other areas in the hotel. It’s also how I learned about peoples’ work stories - where did they work before here? What do they think needs to be improved? What would they like to see? I get to hear it all. Same goes for ride shares - in the winter this has been almost daily, to and from work. Today even I heard about how my driver almost died last year because no one told him it’s not safe to drive in a blizzard (and he, being from a non-snow country, didn’t know any different). Now, up here, political opinions are pretty one-sided (sooo different from home), but I get to hear the why. I get to listen to music and radio shows that I wouldn’t typically listen to on my own. Honestly? The ride is one of my favorite parts of the day.
- Trains are a fun, less stressful way to travel. Look, they’re not perfect and delays happen. But I love the quiet solitude afforded to me on a long train ride. It’s an hour to DC. 3 hours to NYC. It’s so much easier than getting on a plane. Baltimore Penn Station is a 12 minute walk from my apartment - I never feel trapped here. I love traveling by train.
- Change is tough, but necessary. Oh boy, so much change. Ambitious Rory ready to spread her wings of last year, you have no idea what this year has in store for you. It has been a test of faith and a test of sanity. I cannot tell you the last time I cried this much over something that wasn’t a death or a boy. Change is difficult. But if you find yourself able to overcome it, or, better yet, to embrace it, you’ll soon be driving that change. Change is tough, but it’s sooooooo worth it.
- I never want to eat at another chain restaurant. Ok, sure, that’s a lie. (Chik-Fil-A, I’m sorry, I still love you). But one thing that’s amazing here is how many different places and cuisines you have to choose from. And this applies to delivery as well! Orlando was home of the familiar chain where tourists could eat somewhere familiar (a much larger version of Times Square). But I’ve loved playing restaurant roulette here in Baltimore. I’ve only ordered twice from 3 different places - anything else has been new each time, and there’s always something new around the corner.
- Not to sound lazy, but Grocery Delivery is amazing. I don’t have a car. I only recently (like, yesterday) found out it’s easy to get to a Wegman’s via public transport, but other than that and the Whole Foods near work, there isn’t really anything easily accessible for Grocery shopping. Enter Grocery Delivery which is a quarter of the price of a round trip rideshare or Zipcar, and doesn’t involve hauling bags of groceries in one trip. That is…
- …Except for produce. Nothing is going to beat searching for the roundest apple, or the least expensive (but best looking) package of ground beef. Luckily, Whole Foods was purchased by Amazon, and their produce prices aren’t that much different than Safeway. Plus, I get to splurge on weekly $4 floral bouquets that are gorgeous the entire week (and sometimes 2). I didn’t think anyone other than Publix could accomplish this feat, however, I stand corrected.
- Outside of Orlando, almost any Orlandoan could be considered the “happiest person you ever met.” People tell me I’m happy. They ask why I’m smiling all the time. They insist that I smile even when I’m angry. I’m told I’m the nicest person they know. While I’d heard this before, it’s tripled down more so here in Baltimore. I’m convinced that even the grumpiest Orlandoan would receive the same acknowledgment here.
- Being close to family is second to none. My family moved to Orlando when I was 3. My whole life my extended family has been a plane ride away. They’re now a $49 dollar train ride away (or a 4 hour drive if cars where involved). I love this. I know where I want to end up means this won’t be possible again, so I’ll enjoy it while I’m able to (and I still wish my parents were just as close as the rest of my family is now).
- You can never have enough dresses. A couple of years ago I decided I was a dress person. After years of jeans and tshirts, I was ready for a change. Now that I’m able to wear my own clothing to work, I’ve invested in a lot of dresses, and, like any good (or bad) fashion, they’ve started to define me. I never thought I would be called out for good wardrobe choices (and that’s not hyperbole - I genuinely could never have imagined I would be called out for good wardrobe choices), but here we are, and it’s all because of the dresses.
- Four seasons (as in Summer, Fall, Winter Spring) make for an exciting year! I always figured I would love the fall and the leaves changing… but oh my goodness, spring is just the best! The flowers start to bloom, the birds begin to chirp again (because they actually left…) and the city becomes ALIVE again. Summer is great when you can appreciate it. Winter… well, winter was at times magical and at other times just ridiculous. Snow storms do not belong at the end of March.
- Daylights Savings is the WORST. It should not get dark at 4PM. I hate coming home to closed blinds and an urgent need to turn on the lights… and then still being awake for 6+ more hours.
- I hate that it’s not safe to walk alone at night. At first I thought this was a mental block I just had to get over, but then I was shocked to find everyone (even birthright locals) who agreed. There’s a symphony less than a 5 minute walk from my building. While driving past it, one of my drivers pointed out a girl walking and explained that if that was his daughter he’d be disappointed and that it was not a safe walk - she was walking along the same path I would take if I were to see a late show and walk home. To this day, this still bewilders me, but most of the time, even after a show, it’s rare you’ll find someone walking that path.
- I’m 100% confident in where I want to be in the next couple of years (career). I’ve never been a 3, 5 or 10 year plan person. I had vague ideas and no clue how to reach them. I came here with a “leaf in the wind” mentality - I would go where the wind takes me. Now, after finding myself speaking passionately on more than one occasion about trends and patterns in Learning and Development, employee recognition and motivation, I know that’s where my path leads, and I know what I need to do to get there. I’m determined, and I work towards that goal every day.
- I’m 25% confident in where I want to be in the next couple of years (personal life). Y’all, dating is ridiculously hard. I’ll admit, I’ve only been half invested in online dating this past year because I didn’t see myself staying in Baltimore - what would be the point? But to get real candid with everyone (hello anyone who saw how long this post was and didn’t retreat), it’s rough. And what’s worse is not having anyone to really talk to about it. When your friends who just started online dating tell you about how they’ve had several dates lined up, when several of your friends met their significant others online, and when the world is telling you it’s great…. and then you log in, post a couple of photos you like and write what you think is an accurate and brief portrayal of yourself… and then nothing. So you start reaching out to anyone and everyone, thinking your standards are too high… and still nothing. Guys, I’ve been at this for years now. Do you know how difficult it is to admit to yourself that you’re probably never going to find anyone? That the dreams you had for a partner, or for a family are seeming more unrealistic than obtaining celebrity status? When your friends stop asking about your dating life and you wonder if it’s because they know the answer, and it’s easier to talk about something else; or you wonder if they also think you’ll be alone forever. Look, 93.33% (repeating of course) of this post is positive, but please, allow me this one note, because I’ll feel better for having admitted it: this just sucks.
- You can take the girl outta Disney, but…. c’mon. It shouldn’t surprise anyone. I miss home. I miss being able to walk into the park just to see the new show. I miss meeting friends after work, treating friends on weekends, joining friends and families on their vacations and seeing the parks through their eyes. I miss the “Disney Seasons” sporadic as they were. The break has been good, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. I’ve found cures for the homesickness though - homemade Mickey waffles, YouTube videos, fairy lights and even lanterns. I’m lucky that my home is so well known that it’s easy to find these things. I can only imagine the homesickness for those who can’t find the easy substitutions.
But you see, nothing is truly as great as returning home. Last year, before I moved, I went on a trip to San Francisco, Anaheim and Washington DC. On the flight home, I teared up - I didn’t want to be heading home, I thought there was so much left to see and do. I didn’t think there was anything for me there. Now, when I go home, I’m overwhelmed with the site of the lakes and swamps and glimpses of Orlando landmarks. The feeling of returning home is spectacular, and it was something I hadn’t yet fully experienced the way it was meant to be experienced.
I’ll return home for good eventually. There are many things I love about being away, but multitudinous more reasons I love being back at home. I know I’ll be back and I know I’ll settle down there. But for now, the adventure away continues, and who knows what lessons await in this next year?