This week marks three years since Dean and I moved out of Minnesota and decided to try it ON OUR OWN. We knew it would be an adventure, as between us we had one job, one car, an empty apartment and not much else. But we're still here. We knew that seeing our families a couple times a year would mean that good byes would always be teary, that we couldn't depend on our parents for wash machines, home cooking or sewing on extra buttons. We knew there were risks involved in moving to a new place: we didn't yet have our own mechanic, hairdresser, favorite Chinese restaurant. Hell, we even got a cat before we knew anyone who would catsit for us! There were a couple of times I think we both had second thoughts like when Dean's dad had a heart attack. Or when my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimers. These things make you want to spend as much time with your family as possible. But even more so than us, our parents and grandparents know that little birds have to fly away from the nest. And these little birds headed south. Sure, living in a red state was hard to swallow at first, but now I know when and around whom to keep my mouth shut. We can count on Temple Terrace Automotive to service the Green Machine (and now the Red Machine!). I don't know how I survived without Allie from Look Salon as my hairdresser. And I think the owner of China Star can send her kids to college thanks to us. Sure, I have suffered through some bad haircuts, bad Chinese food and bad swindling by the Honda dealerships, but I am stronger for the experience. I even have multiple friends asking to catsit our multiple cats while we're on vacation. Granted, visiting Minnesota for Christmas is extra hard due to the thinning of my blood and good byes are still teary. But when I wake up in the morning during the winter months down here I get slightly giddy at the thought of not having to scrape the ice off my windshield. We can go to the beach, sit on the white, powdery sand, look out onto the green water and not see builings on the other side. And at the Twins Spring Training, the abundance of pasty legs and exclaimations of "Oooooh! Yeaaaaaah!Suuuuuure!" never fails to remind us that we LIVE where other people VACATION.