Suddenly it’s September. It’s still too hot to be outside for long and the days aren’t too short yet, though it’s darker and darker in the mornings as I drive to work. Labor Day weekend has passed, but there is still time to plan beach adventures and sunburn by the pool. Suddenly it’s September.

It was just June. We were just waking up late and rushing to work, though it didn’t really matter if we made it on time. We secretly watched Bob’s Burger in the auditorium, helped Tasmanian devil middle schoolers make breakfast burritos and tacos over hot plates. We watched the clocks anxiously waiting for sunset, for the workday to be done, to race home and downtown – to Taco Tuesday, to compete for glances and smiles, to escape something, though really nothing.

Suddenly it’s September and I drive half the distance to work every morning that I did last fall. I have a plethora of new friends and multiple invites on the weekends, as well as the newfound ability to decline them all. Every person I spend substantial time with, I’ve known for under a year and those universes keep crossing paths and exploding into something more. Suddenly I know the streets of Downtown Orlando as well as I knew Tampa, strange that it took this year and not the previous 80 percent of my life to learn them.

It was just March. You were driving me crazy. Beach weekends and rushing to find you, to cross paths and catch you before you disappeared. Uniforms, buzz cuts, questionable family values and memories of Christmas on the beach. Chickens, fishing at dawn, and a sketchy dive bar I never called home – that life seems so far away, it was never truly mine, was it?

Suddenly it’s September. You don’t hurt anymore. Or you. Or you. Or you. Pangs of jealousy catch in my throat the same way they did when I was eight years old and it was my sister’s birthday. I’m not searching, but striving for contentment. Or at least the journey to contentment.

It was just February. New friends snuggled in hotel rooms, drank rum with a splash of coke and gallivanted the frozen streets of Baltimore after dark. It was just New Year’s. Reunited with some of my oldest friends, drinking to oblivion, we celebrated in a tacky bar and ended up crowded into a booth at a sticky Waffle House. It was just Christmas, Thanksgiving, and August – every first holiday since she was gone.

It was just September and everything felt empty. Boxes were half unpacked, scattered across the house. When I slept, or when I laid down for a while each evening, I did so on the couch and I checked my phone and checked my phone and checked my phone. It was just September and I had come crashing home, bent and a little broken, bags under my eyes and bruises on my heart, trying to find my way.

Suddenly it’s September again. Though some worries came true – I miss my old friends and the life we lived in Tampa, old family photos always make me cry, I still don’t have a concrete plan for my future and I can’t listen to an entire Luke Bryan song without getting angry – I am shocked at what I’ve found.

Orlando feels like home again in several ways. The desire to leave once again courses through me from time to time – and I will seek a change again, but hopefully for better reasons this time. I am grateful for my friends – old, new, newer and oldest – I know people worthy of late night Snapchats with stupid faces, hair ties while hunched over toilet bowls, and most of all love love love. I have promised myself that self-destruction will never again be blamed on another’s hand and I have a new faith in the journey to doing better, to being better.

Suddenly it’s September and I’m no longer backpedaling to figure out what was going on. I’m no longer worrying about each daily step. Suddenly it’s September and I’ve reveling in the ease at which I can laugh again, grasping contentment no matter how fleeting and looking toward the future, not because I’m filled with doubt, but because I trust that it will be good.



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