Monday we closed the door on our time in Gainesville, FL. Florida has been home for five years and wasn’t always the most welcomed of destinations. Moving to a new city with my new husband sounded exciting, and it was for the most part, but Gainesville also saw some rough times for the Tuckers. It was difficult to figure out how to live with someone else, start my career, learn to be an encourager and supporter through Bryan’s graduate school, to live 7 hours from family, to be one of the very few to leave our friend groups, and to learn that making friends as an adult is much harder than in college. I struggled to find deep friendships which led to loneliness and anxiety. We made friends and lost friends which was discouraging. I had plenty of acquaintances, but was really longing for the deep level friendship in person like I was experiencing over the phone with my long distance friends.
Bryan got caught in a rain storm
Enter God. Once I got into the swing of things at work I was able to build some great friendships with some of the funniest people I’ve ever met. They helped me lighten up a bit and taught me how to be a Floridian. After trying a few churches and bible study groups, we landed on one that made serving others their focus. We joined a bible study that was the truest answer to almost two years of prayer. This group became our family, and I mean that. They loved us, welcomed us, and taught us so much. It showed us that we were not alone and that we weren’t long distance from family anymore. We shared holidays, loss, new life, weddings, and everyday celebrations with these people. The Lord knew when I could handle the loneliness no more and plopped us right in the middle of this well established group of people that would bring my heart so much joy. We also found true friendships in Bryan’s colleagues in graduate school. To have another group of people that knew exactly what we were experiencing was invaluable. To have spouses and significant others who knew the struggles of supporting a doctoral candidate helped me through the roughest years.
Bryan and I grew so much in our time in Florida as individuals, young working professionals, and as a couple. We learned that we don’t have to do everything on our own, despite our goals of being an independent couple (is that an oxymoron?). We learned how to handle our finances and that we are passionate about helping others with our blessings like so many have helped us in the past. We learned that a city is all about the friends that make it up and that we can essentially be happy anywhere we go as long as we dig in and find our community there. We learned that Bryan’s a better cook and that I don’t actually enjoy it that much. We learned how to love wine, how to train a puppy, how to miss family events, how to live with the basics, and how to prioritize our wants. We learned how to question our faith and still keep believing, how to love people who are different than us, how to say “I’m sorry”, how to struggle at work, and how to support one another through those times.
Gainesville, you have seen us through supposedly the most change we will experience in adult life (the twenties) and we have come out the other side better people. We have met incredible people who have taught us more about life than school ever could. Penny made her best friends in Gainesville and learned to be a socially acceptable dog, no thanks to us. And now, as we prepare to leave the Sunshine State for blizzards and Mid-Western accents, we feel ready to face our next chapter. We know that eventually we will make friends and have community again. We know that we still have our friends in Gainesville just a phone call away and cheering us on. We know we will be ok if we keep life in perspective and keep God at the center of it.
Our next chapter: We are moving to Cleveland, OH, mid June for a great career opportunity for Bryan. I also have a job lined up and will begin in July. We have already met people there who have welcomed us into their city and we are excited for this move. We will trade Southern hospitality for the Mid-Western way of living and will learn all about pirogies, lake-effect snow, and why they love the Browns so much. But we are not nervous or anxious because we have each other, we have support of family and friends all over the country, and we have the peace of God with us.
We will be traveling out of the country next week and will attempt to add a few updates here if we have time. Feel free to keep up with our travels. I will also do my best to keep up with our Cleveland move on the blog for anyone curious about The Land. Thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout this journey and our first five years of marriage. We honestly couldn’t have done it without you.