Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Week in California

There really is a Friends quote for everything, isn't there?

MONICA: Six years is a long time, the end of an era, you might say.
RACHEL: You know, Mon, I gotta say, I don't think six years counts as an era.
MONICA: An era is defined as a significant amount of time, now it was significant for me, maybe it wasn't significant enough for you!


As I've mentioned in a previous post, I have accepted an Assistant Professor position in Plainview, Texas, and the job will start in August.  We're moving in six days back to the panhandle of Texas, close to where we grew up. 
It's impossible to put into words the emotions that Scott and I are feeling this week--our last week in California--but I am going to try, if only because I imagine that what we'll shortly be facing will obliterate all these feelings and bombard us with new ones.  And I feel as though this moment is important to remember.

We miss our friends already. And it is a deep, tender hurt that we haven't been able to talk about much yet. Not even to each other.

We feel as though life is heavy:  We're physically and mentally exhausted from packing, sorting, boxing, making hard decisions about what goes into a box and what goes to Goodwill or the trash.  But less than from these move-related issues, I think we're primarily still exhausted from working so many different and differently-difficult jobs while working on our Ph.D.s, which is a full time job in and of itself.  So, as we garner all the strength we have to pack our heavy material possessions (mainly books) and academic careers into cartons, we are also looking forward to what happens once we get to unpack.

We feel as though life won't get easier, but it will get less heavy:  There were points during these past five years at which Scott and I were each working four part-time very low-paying academic jobs.  At the same time.  Usually we were working three each.  We know that our teaching and service responsibilities at our new university will be more rigorous in many ways; but the good news is that we'll be in ONE location. ONE office.  For goodness sakes, I'll have an office!!!  With shelves and a door and everything.  And, right now, that makes all the difference in how much this one big job will weigh compared to all my small jobs added together.

We miss CGU, APU, and Glendora already.  We miss our mentors, the few professors who time and again reached out to us, and the important men and women who have shaped and guided our academic and spiritual growth during our time out here.

We miss the trees, the flowering bushes, the ocean, the foothills, the landscapes, and the color green already.  (Our new stomping ground will be rather more yellow and brown in hue than any other colors.)

We are hopeful and not a little anxious about Scott's part-time position turning into a full-time one.  The school has led us to believe that it's a real and likely possibility.  So, we wait.

We are overjoyed that we are coming home to three sweet nephews, one of which will be born this week.

We are blessed and happy that the school that offered the job was within an hour from either of our families.  (My mind is still a bit blown about this bit.)

We are halfway timid, halfway gung-ho about leaving student life behind.  Last night Scott mentioned that, up until this point, we've been working very hard toward the achievement of one very specific, defined goal--our Ph.D.s--and these tasks that we had to complete had very little relevance outside of that goal.  But now that we're doctors and becoming "real" professors, the things we do, write, say, publish, etc., have the potential to move us forward in our careers in ways that our Ph.D. work never could.

We're nervous about the logistics and the actual moving part of the move.  Excited about everything it symbolizes.

And, lastly, I believe we understand that this move is the beginning of the next phase of our marriage.  So far, we've only ever been doctoral students while we've been husband and wife.  And starting our careers and new phase of marriage beyond student life will be a change and challenge, but one that we're very ready for.  This change will lead the way through any number of doors in the future, such as the door to buying a house, or starting a family.  There was no way to do these things until we had passed this first big hurdle of graduating together and finding jobs at the right school.  The feeling--as scary as it is to think of buying a house or getting pregnant--is actually quite liberating.  We can choose these things now.  They are now tangible options.

So, as we move forward into the new era of our lives, I can't help but feel free and heavy at the same time.  One week from now, our immediate lives and home will be very different.