On finally appreciating Florida (and shattering those Chicago delusions) after 25 years

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25 years ago today, my mom and I left Chicago and arrived in central Florida to begin a new life. I was two, she was 28 (a year older than I am now… yikes), and almost everyone we loved was suddenly a thousand miles away in breezy Chicago or its soft-grassed suburbs. I was distraught and ungrateful; she was newly divorced and brave enough to make this daunting leap alone. Almost every day since then, I’ve missed Illinois and hated this state. I never adjusted to the weather, I flew back “home” to spend every school break with my cousins,. . . keep going