Let me preface this by saying that Cleveland, OH is my technical home. It's where I grew up and most of my family still lives. But...
Charleston, SC is my HOME.
I moved to Charleston when I was 18 to go to Johnson & Wales University (JWU). This was before Bank of America offered JWU millions of dollars to build a campus in Charlotte, NC, causing the end of the Charleston Campus. I was one of the lucky ones to be there until the end. Well, technically I spent the last trimester in Seville, Spain, but I did come back and graduate with 50+ of my fellow students.
My years in Charleston were glorious. I still tell people that Charleston is one of the best places one could spend their formative years between high school and "being an adult". There's just something for everyone. Of course the weather and having the beach at your fingertips helps too. I met some of the best people I have ever known here. Heck I'm bunking with one of them and her daughter while in town. I'm always jealous to hear of a friend visiting Charleston or moving here.
I moved away from Charleston in 2008 and have only managed to visit a handful of times since. This is actually my first time back in over a year. I ask myself why all the time. Why did I leave? Why haven't I come back?
The answers are simple, although not necessarily ones I like:
I left because I thought I had to and I haven't come back because the time isn't right.
I thought I had to leave because I was working for Marriott, and besides my hotel, there were no other full service properties run by them, where I could work my way up the ranks in Charleston. My hotel was too small and had no room for movement. So I left. I moved to Cincinnati (almost back to my other home). I took a lot of risks leaving. I knew no one in Cincinnati, except a cousin, and I was leaving behind everyone I loved. This included my then boyfriend, now husband. Luckily for us, our want to be together was stronger than the distance that kept us apart.
I look back now and realize how silly I was for thinking I had to leave because of my job. In the wake of not having a job I realize that my happiness should never be compromised for a paycheck. I've known this all along, but haven't always remembered this when it's important. But now, I'll never forget. Moving forward, my happiness, wellness, and health are my top priority. Obviously having a job is important, but I will not compromise on the type of job I take because I feel I have to. If this means working as a barista in Starbucks is what makes me happy, then bring on the espresso.
The time isn't right to move back to Charleston. My husband is just getting started in his career after being in the Navy for 10 years. Maryland is where we need to be right now, but I will always keep my eye on the horizon knowing, in my heart of hearts, that Charleston is waiting to welcome me back home.