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Expat to Repat: Living elsewhere taught her there's no place like home

There’s that old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

For Allison Mora, it’s literally true. Mora, 47, currently lives in Orlando, Fla., where the grass is most certainly greener, the weather sunnier and the snow nonexistent. But something is missing. For Mora, that “something” is the nagging feeling of not being “home.”

The former Allison Tripp grew up in Batavia and moved to Williamsville when she was in middle school. She graduated from Williamsville East in 1987, then attended the University at Buffalo and majored in illustration. With a bachelor of fine arts under her belt, she went to Buffalo State to get a teaching degree and began teaching shortly thereafter. Not once did she think ever about leaving. But sometimes life has a plan of its own.

Allison teaching at Mill Middle School in 1996.

In 1996, Mora met her now-husband, Josh. The two were married in 1999. Josh was a sportscaster for WGRZ and then Empire Sports Network. But in 2005, Empire folded unexpectedly and Josh found a new job with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago.

“I had no time to think about the move,” Mora says. “I had two tiny little babies – a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old – at the time. Josh got the job and we left two weeks later. It was a whirlwind to say the least.”

Mora quickly packed up the house, the kids and her life, and headed for the Windy City with eagerness and optimism. She liked the idea of trying on a new city and seeing how it fit. It was new and exciting, and she wanted to give it a real chance.

“I’m embarrassed to say that when we first moved there, I was very dismissive of Buffalo. Anytime anyone would ask me where I was from and I’d tell them, they’d say, ‘Oh, it’s so cold there.’ That was always the reaction. It was always about the cold and the snow. I played along at first. But it wasn’t long until I started to get homesick.”

Name: Allison Mora
Age: 47
Current location: Orlando, Fla.
Previous location: Williamsville, Chicago
Misses most about Buffalo: Wegmans, the authenticity of the people, and the food
Loved most about Chicago: The culture, friends and family, and the food

After five years in Chicago, Josh lost his job again after the stock market crashed in 2008. He hoped to find something with a little bit more stability and landed a job with Full Sail University in Orlando, writing and implementing a new sports-marketing degree. Mora never thought she’d end up in Florida, she says, and she went into it thinking they would only be there for a couple of years. But Josh kept moving up in the company, and time kept passing. Then, last spring, they were eating breakfast on a Sunday morning when a Delaware North promotional video popped up in Mora’s Facebook feed.

“It was the one with the drone flying over Buffalo,” she says. “We sat there and watched it, and I started to cry. That’s when Josh said, ‘How about you and the girls go back? And I’ll stay here and commute back and forth. It’s clear to me that you belong there.’ ”

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Mora says from that moment on, they began implementing a plan to make the move back to Buffalo a reality. They spoke with family and friends, and began looking at houses. Mora applied for recertification in New York and has been on the hunt for a teaching job. Her daughters, now 13 and 16, are excited yet nervous. The family’s goal is to be back in Buffalo by the end of July. And the first thing they plan to do is go grocery shopping at Wegmans.

“I never imagined when I left back in 2005 that I’d be back in Buffalo again or that my daughters would be attending the same high school I graduated from,” Mora says. “But I’m so happy about it.  Buffalo is a place that gets into your character. You can try to go other places and be something else, but it’s always going to part of who you are. And I want that same thing for my kids.”

If you or anyone you know has a story to tell about moving back or to Buffalo, or about moving away, email LynsD21@gmail.com.

Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a freelance writer. Visit her website at lyndseydarcangelo.com or follow her on Twitter @darcangel21.

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