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Where She Belonged

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The turbulence made the plane’s wings seesaw drunkenly upon landing in Newark. Even the weather knew something different was blowing into town.

She was so very frightened to return to this place that hadn’t been kind to her. It was a good thing she’d left before the damage was irreparable. Otherwise, it may have been impossible for the South to heal those broken emotional bones.

Now that she was returned and seated in the car they’d hired to bring her to the office, she took in the familiar vibe. Urban sprawl. Frigid winds that viciously stole her breath. Aggressive traffic. She remembered this unsettling feeling that she was conspicuous – a shock of red amidst endless grey.

Would anyone see a difference in her? Did they even remember her after a year away? Would they think she’d lost her edge?

Suddenly very unsure, she took evaluation of the ensemble she’d carefully chosen. The vivid turquoise wrap dress, sheer tights and nude patent pumps were purposefully a far cry from her typical grey shirt/black pants work ensemble. The severe blond bun had been replaced with long, loosely flowing strands of red. Where her tall frame was previously starved for nourishment it was now vital, strong and feminine. At least there was that.


Entering the office, conversations halted when she walked past. Whispers followed her strides as if they’d seen a ghost. In truth, they had. And that morning, her smile grew exponentially with each joyful exclamation of recognition, each hug received and each stunned remark about her appearance. Most couldn’t quite put their finger on it. Those who knew her best used the words, “bright”, “alive”, “glowing” and “radiant”.

They got it. They saw it.

It wasn’t the clothes or the hair color. She was different.

The job was executed with her usual style of fiery panache, making easy the complicated and making organized the complex. Confidence and self-assurance leapt from her every action and statement. She didn’t just complete the assignment. She soared.

When the big meeting ended, she needed a respite from the emotions stomping over one other in her mind. She waved to the still-familiar doormen on the way out of the building, then made her way to the railing at the water. And standing there, cursing the freezing wind, she finally let her mind relax and inhaled a breath of cold that made her lungs tingle in protest.


Everything was so different, but yet so much was still the same here. Most of all, she was so relieved to discover that her fears had been unfounded. Her coworkers had certainly missed her, based on the office buzz and number of baby pictures her male coworkers proudly offered for oohing and ahhhing.  She definitely didn’t miss these bitter temps or this frantic pace of life, but at least no one could possibly question her professional achievements after today. If anything, they’d say she’s better than she used to be. And the reason was simple: She left this place. This brave new woman that everyone wanted to see, talk to, and be around? She wouldn’t be this person if she still lived here. That same woman lifted her face, gazed at the Freedom Tower and told herself that it’s okay to miss the people and not miss the place. After all, she’d found her self, her happy, her dreams and her future in a place that had nothing to do with subways and snowstorms.

Her lips curved into a secretive smile. She’d do what she needed to do while she was here, and she’d do it more than well. But she couldn’t wait to go home.

And with that last thought, any lingering doubts of where she belonged sailed off with that icy wind over the Hudson. With one last glance at that magnificent view, she turned on one of those pretty heels and headed towards the building entrance.

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43 responses »

  1. Love this post Peach! I’m glad you are glowing. NJ hasn’t been very nice this winter – Nice to be back Hotlanta for many reasons, I’ll bet!

  2. I feel this way about the town I grew up in. If I had never left it, I would never have changed or grown.

  3. What a nicely nostalgic post that’s forward-looking at the same time. Wistfully optimistic—that’s the phrase I’m looking for. I’m weepy tonight.

    Thanks for the shoutout to our supporting subscriber campaign. I’d love for everyone on the grid to grab the link or a button. You’re very thoughtful.

  4. i walked with you and you kicked ass!

  5. Good for you! And DAMN those shoes!

  6. I love that you’re in such a healthy, confident mindset right now! Go, peach! Way to rock it!

  7. I love that feeling – it happened when I left my old job, then went back. “You lost weight! You look happy!” Yes. Yes. Good for you, taking hold of your life and walking in those heels.

  8. Every bit of this is awesome. I loved the almost eight years that I lived in Manhattan, but was not a stranger to feeling completely overwhelmed and out of my element in this fast-paced concrete jungle. Is it a cold, tough, and unforgiving place, but it also has the ability to shape us and make us in a way that many cities do not. I love that you are in such a good place now, and that you recognize that your time in NYC served its purpose, but that moving on was good and right. And those shoes rock.

    • wow, you get it exactly. It was almost 7 years for me and yes, I’m grateful for the ways it shaped me into the version of myself I’ve found recently. You can borrow the shoes if you need them, any time. 🙂

  9. So inspiring. We are in very different places in our lives, and I want you to know that from this side of the fence your grass is looking very green…….

  10. I spent much of my 20s in NYC and it certainly helped shaped me as a person. It was a coming of age experience I wouldn’t trade, but I definitely felt when it was time to go and get out of the rat race. Now I miss it, but I’m a bus or train ride away and can enjoy it in small bites. I love this piece and your realization that you got some good out of your time there while having something new to move on to. New adventures, new chapters.

  11. Love this. Love you. You bring good energy into my life and all your corners. xo

  12. Hooray for the new improved Peach! I love how this post just drips with juicy confidence. Makes me wonder if a new place would change me. I’ve been a Baltimore girl all of my life. Maybe one day we shall see…hope I have the guts to leave like you did

  13. You really stirred something in me with this post…very Mary Tyler Moore-ish, in an independent, self-assured way. Great way to look back while still facing forward.

  14. Love all the layers here, the pacing and the triumph! Well done all around.

  15. I can relate to this for sure. I’ve left places and gone back, and without exception I’ve always felt stronger when I go back to those old familiar places. It’s the best way to show yourself that you’ve grown and improved a lot more than you think you have!

  16. What a beautifully written post, Peach! Very nice work!

  17. I love the triumph and the photos and your writing, which is always so strong. This is a happy piece about returning…I want that sense when I return to old places. I will never forget this.

  18. I liked the mystery of this piece. . . captivating! I especially liked this line: “Most of all, she was so relieved to discover that her fears had been unfounded.” You’d think that after all the times that we realize that our fears are unfounded that we would stop having those fears, huh? I wonder why we don’t. . .

  19. I love this. I’m probably in the minority of people born and raised in Jersey who don’t go around yelling “Jersey Strong!” and such. I see how this place can really drag you down. I’m so glad you got out and found yourself.

  20. If I had a hat on, I would through throw it in the air with you like MTM. Very inspiring tone and language. Nice to meet you, fellow peach (live near Mall of Ga).

  21. Oh, so triumphant! Love that you feel so good about yourself, love that you are color and light. Love, love, love.

  22. WOW. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts – my own story. I left a big corporate job seven years ago to strike out on my own – and my former employer became one of my biggest clients. I made the same walk as you did back in the same building that had caused me so much stress, no longer wearing the gray and black that had for so long marked my corporate and stiff wardrobe. I now adorned myself in vivid color, in a flowing scarf and RED pumps. I felt nervous, yet free, because I could walk out that door and my former coworkers could not. Bravo and nice to meet you.

  23. You had me through the entire post – a poignant mix of depth and subtlety. Needs a sound track and a cheering section! Great job!

  24. That’s my girl. I am a big fan of your happy.


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