That is a something that I have wanted to say for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the Quad Cities, on the eastern border of Iowa, and despite my family being from there and most remaining there, I can never remember a time where I thought I would grow old there. I hated the area, and I was going to do my best to leave.
Since I didn't want a massive debt, I stayed in state for college and went to the University of Iowa. It was less than an hour from my hometown, but it felt like a world away. It had a thriving nightlife with college girls, tailgating, alcohol, and college girls. For an 18-22 year old, good looking college women could make Siberia seem like Paradise. It was not too bad.
When I graduated, I was wiling to move anywhere for my first job. I really lucked out as I got a job in Seattle, one of the best places on the planet. If I were a single guy and found any job in that area, I would move out there in a heartbeat. In fact, if you are young and single, do that. Move to Seattle. The rain is way overblown and the summers are perfect.
So why did I leave? Well, the main reason is that my bosses hated me. That meant I had no chance of being promoted, and even if I were promoted, the long-term job prospects of the Seattle SuperSonics were not the best (Spoiler alert: They moved to Oklahoma City). Because of that, I had to look around for jobs. Luckily, the guy who originally hired me for the Sonics really liked me and he took a job with a different sports team. Unluckily, he happened to move from Seattle to the minor league baseball team in my hometown. Back to the Quad Cities, it was. I was happy to have a good job, but it was bittersweet for the area I was moving back to.
This next go-around wasn't so bad. The most positive thing was that I worked so much that I barely had any free time. Because of that, where I lived really didn't matter. When I did have free time in the fall, I could go to Iowa football games to tailgate, but still, I knew that the area was not made for me.
After two years, I quit my job and decided to move to Albuquerque. This was my "Be young and stupid" phase of life. Surprisingly, my young and stupid phase did not involve drugs or alcohol. But I moved to Albuquerque, tried to write a screenplay (I finished it; it has potential, but needs a major overhaul, something I have not done three years later) and trained in mixed martial arts. It was a great experience overall, but I knew I was never going to be a fighter (I'm a pussy), so it had no long-term potential. I got my ass kicked for the better part of a year before moving back to Iowa, but this time, it was at least West Des Moines.
West Des Moines was good; I lived with my brother, and since we are practically the same person, we got along really well. But there was a girl that I had been on and off with, but we were going to try to be on again, and she convinced me to move back to the Quad Cities for the sake of love. I packed up and headed back.
She dumped me two weeks later.
So I was back in the place I wanted to be the least, with no job, no lady friend, and living with my parents (pretty cool roommates, but not exactly an ideal situation for a single guy). The best job offer I had was a part-time tennis instructor for children. The job was great, the money was not, and I was still in limbo with life, just hanging out in the QCA, not really doing much of anything.
Don't get me wrong. When things lined up nicely, and a big group of people came out or something special was going on, I had some fun times. But for the most part? Going out in the Quad Cities is awful. There wasn't a single place that delivered more fun times than times where I was staring at my phone hoping for the night to end. It was miserable.
But this story does have a happy ending. I got a job and got promoted twice in a year. That on-again, off-again lady friend became on again. I proposed, and we got married in September.
Since we both hate the cold weather, we quit our jobs and moved to Florida last week. I have finally left the Quad Cities, and this time, it's permanent. Hooray, me. I finally did it.
And yet, as much as I hate living in the Quad Cities. This moment is still bittersweet. It's 80 degrees down here and has snowed and been in the teens up there, so the weather is really, really sweet. But it's still tough.
Although a lot of friends have moved around the country, there are still some awesome people in the Quad Cities that I am going to miss. Those people don't hate the Quad Cities. They go out and have a blast, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just like I am doing what makes me happy by moving away, they are doing what makes them happy and staying in a place that they thoroughly enjoy with people they love to spend time with. I will always look forward to going back and hanging out with those people, and I hope they're smart enough to come visit me during the winter.
As much as I love my friends, there are two people I am going to miss even more, and those are my parents. My parents are the nicest people ever, and none of my bad traits should be attributed to them. They have gone above and beyond in helping me out in every way imaginable, and I am going to miss them only being a 15 minute drive away. I would not be where I am today without their love and support, and for that I am forever grateful.
The one thing that makes this easy is the number one person in my life. My wife is an amazing person, and I am incredibly lucky that she settled for me. We're going at life together, and although there is still a lot of uncertainty in our immediate future (we should probably try to get jobs soon), there is nobody I would rather face this uncertainty with than her.
In my hometown, there is a saying that runs on the local news where people get on TV and say, "Hello, Quad Cities." Today, I say, "Goodbye, Quad Cities." Although this is definitely a happy moment, I am going to miss my family and friends. But with my wife by my side, it's hard to not be excited about the future, and I'm really happy with where things are going.
Oh, and the weather is going to be pretty sweet too.