About six years ago, I arrived in Sanford on the AutoTrain with a car packed full of stuff, no place to live and no idea where I was even going to spend that night. I had just moved here from Baltimore to take over as editor in chief of Orlando Weekly. I really had no idea what I was in for.
What I knew about Florida then: hanging chads, Walt Disney World, retirees, beaches, a real estate market devastated by the economic crash, alligators.
What I know about Florida now: the sweet smell of angel trumpets in the evenings, stunningly blue-green springs that no doubt laid the foundation in Ponce de Leon's mind that Florida could be home to a fountain of youth, alligators, devoted communities fighting for the future of a state that's all too often held in the grip of politicians corrupted by the promise of easy money.
When I got here, I said I'd more than likely be ready to pass the torch in about seven years – I figured that every decade or so, in order to stay fresh and vital, a community publication like this one needs fresh eyes from which to survey the world. I didn't quite make it to seven, but I figure six years is a pretty good run and I'm ready for something new.
Next week, I take over as the public relations administrator for the Orange County Library System, so this is my last issue as editor of the publication. I leave the Weekly in the very capable hands of our longtime arts and culture editor, Jessica Bryce Young, who's taking over as interim editor in chief. She, Thaddeus McCollum, Monivette Cordeiro and Colin Wolf will be joined by our new music editor, Matthew Moyer, on March 22, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they take this magazine.
Many thanks to my colleagues, past and present, who've made my experience here such a joy – a challenging joy, but a joy nonetheless. And thanks to our readers (and listeners who've tuned in on Thursdays and Saturdays to listen to me chatter on WMFE 90.7 News) for the kind words and criticism (some constructive, some not so much), which has helped me understand the cultural fabric that holds Central Florida together.
It's been a damn good ride, Orlando. Be nice – or at least civil – to the next editor in chief, willya? – Erin Sullivan