I have mentioned how I wasn't happy living in the state I was born in, Illinois. I always say that I was born in the wrong state. I sometimes developed SADD during winter. It actually started in the fall season, knowing that Illinois winter was right around the corner.

woman leaving illinois to travel to arizona

One of my life regrets - a job offer based in New York

At the age of 19 I had a job offer to work with my prior boss who left the company I was employed at to work for the World Bank. I would be his Executive Secretary, traveling all over the world. However, I would have to relocate to New York. I had just gotten married and I laid awake at night contemplating such an exciting move.

I talked to my husband who was still trying to find his ideal work situation and who wasn’t comfortable starting anew in New York. And my pre-set accommodations did not include a husband. I would have had to share an apartment with several other girls.

Had I known then that I would be divorced I would have jumped on it. Even though I had a fear of flying this was an offer I almost couldn’t refuse. But I did. I chickened out.

Not to mention that New York held no magic for me. I had never been there and had no interest to live there.

This is one of only a couple “What If’s” in my life. I have no idea how different my life would now be had I taken this job opportunity. But I didn’t, so I don’t dwell on it.

Little did I know that I would visit New York (Manhattan) in 2007 and fall in love with it. I actually thought that if I had to live in a place with four distinct seasons and cold and snow, I think I’d pick New York over Chicago.

macys in new york

However, we stayed in Manhattan and didn’t get to see any other boroughs or surrounding suburbs. But I loved the history and vibe of Manhattan. Of course, to be able to afford to live in Manhattan I’d have to win the lottery.

times square in new york

woman playing a harp in new york

rosie ogradys saloon in manhatten new york

Like in the Chicago area, I’d be living in an affordable suburb or one of the other boroughs. Then it might be just like here, I’d only go downtown Chicago a few times a year. It’s a lot different living in an area vs. visiting on a vacation.

I'd love to take another vacation to Manhattan with my husband, but it's like many places. It's a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. 

Florida was my paradise

I didn’t fly until I was around 45. Prior to that, the only places I visited were by car. We used to go to Florida for our vacation every year when I was a child and teenager. In fact, most of the pictures I have of my Mom and I are in bathing suits in Sarasota, Florida.

Mom and me in our bathing suits on the white sand beach of sarasota, florida

At that point in my life, I loved Florida and still have many happy memories. I’ve gone there with friends a couple of times. I thought if I ever left Illinois, it would be for Florida. That was until I was introduced to Arizona.

dining with friends in west palm beach florida
Dining with friends at West Palm Beach, Florida

As a child I would always get so excited before our 2-week long trip to Florida. I could barely sleep at night. It was a fun trip being able to swim in the built-in pool of the motel we stayed at, and the ocean was a walk away with beautiful the white sand beaches of Sarasota and then Bradenton.  The most fun part for me were the tourist places we visited, like Parrot Jungle, Busch Gardens, and the sponge diving glass bottomed boats, just to name a few.

Those were memories of a child and teenager. Visiting Florida as an adult didn't give me those same feelings. I no longer had the sentimental feelings of a 1960's Florida vs. the next trip in 1999. It was so built-up, and I'm really not an ocean person. And as an adult the humidity bothered me more than it did as a child. Illinois has humid summers which is another reason I wanted out.

I left my heart in Arizona

cacti and mountain view from saguaro lake arizona

So once I visited Arizona, and it's difficult to describe, it clutched my heart. This is where I wanted to live. This is the only place (except Florida as a youngster), where I didn't miss home. It was the opposite - I never wanted to leave Arizona. I would get sad as our Arizona trips neared the end. I would look at other people going about their shopping and restaurant dining and be jealous that they lived there. I'd wondered if they knew how lucky they were. 

It is 14 degrees here in IL with a windchill factor of -7 and is snowing again.
In Scottsdale, AZ, it is 64 degrees but feels like 73.
You know where I’d rather be!

Posted by Judy Orr on
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