Moving to Florida made me feel adventurous and daring, and, if I’m being honest, a bit special. I didn’t know many other people my age who’d moved across the country like that, and I think that was part of the appeal.

It was also my way of formally breaking ties with where I grew up. It was never a fit for me, and, as I’ve mentioned, none of my close friends were surprised to hear I was leaving the state. When I left Woodland behind, I really thought I left any part of me that identified with that small town behind as well.

A friend of mine from high school came to visit last weekend, someone I haven’t seen in years — I saw him a couple of times when I went back up to Michigan for weddings and such, but, shortly after that, he packed his bags and left the area, too, and now lives in Arizona. And it was so interesting to see the little things that we both seem to have hung onto despite the fact that we’re in totally different parts of the country.

There were little things, like the fact that we had basically the same shoes (gray Converse All-Stars) but, you know, in vastly different sizes (seriously, it was comical), and he brought along a Detroit Tiger hat — a staple in any Michigander’s closet, including mine. But there were a lot of other things, like views on finances and homes and family, that were still remarkably similar even though we’ve ended up with totally different lives in completely different communities.

I don’t know if those things remain in common because of where we grew up, or if they’re just things have always made us who we are and are probably why we became close friends in the first place. Or maybe some of it has to do with the fact that we’re both only children. I really have no idea. But I do know that, for as far away as I tried to run from the girl I was in Woodland, there was a bit of comfort in knowing that at least a little piece of that small town Midwestern girl survived.

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