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Orlando: all-star city

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I’ll admit it: Until recently I’ve always wanted out of Orlando. For as long as I can remember I’ve been hell bent on making an escape to a “cooler” city because I thought the offerings and nightlife here were sub-par compared to others. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person I know that takes trips to New York twice a month and has more friends and a more active social life up there than I do down here. But is it really that much different?


Since 2008 I’ve had about 20 friends flee Orlando for something better and in those years, I’ve read countless status updates about how much they miss our beaches, their friends, their family, our weather and our bars (Hi, Austin and New York friends!). Even better, these are the same people who throw “goodbye, Orlando” parties for themselves, give us the middle finger as they part ways and talk shit about where we live and how much we need to “get the fuck out of this place.” The funny thing is that half of them come back a few years later.

Why? I suppose aspiring to become a bar-back or hairdresser in Brooklyn isn’t exactly going to earn you a place of your own in the big city. And landing a good job and working 60-plus hours a week isn’t going to give you the most rewarding social life. But I’m not quite sure those are the only reasons people return. I think it’s also that, at some point, it hits us that Orlando is (and will always be) home. And when we come back to visit, we see how much our city is evolving. We realize that with every familiar hello we receive while having drinks at Prato, Stardust, Whiskey Lou’s, Wally’s and Will’s, some of us actually enjoy being big fishes in this small pond. And how awesome that kinda is.

The NBA All-Star weekend gave me a chance to step back and look at where I live from an outsider’s point of view, and as crazy as the downtown streets were at times, I was proud of what we had to offer. We have club after bar after restaurant after wine bar after craft-beer bar after gallery bar after gay bar, complete with cheesy college Top 40, poetry readings, live music, indie music, dubstep and electro dance nights. We have it all, and no one who comes here from out of town expects to find that here.

So if you’re craving a better social life and you do get the desire to “get the fuck out of here,” might I suggest a vacation instead of a move? I mean, the grass is actually quite green here 365 days a year, and chances are you’re going to be back in a few years anyway. Why not save a few grand on relocation costs? Don’t get me wrong. Many can thrive in a big city. That’s not my point. My point is why can’t we enjoy the one we’re already in just the same?

More by Meghan Schalk


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