Monday, April 7, 2008

A year ago

A year ago, we moved to this city during an April snowstorm. We unpacked our boxes in an empty house. Sheets of packing paper and the other detritus of moving filled the rooms.

Bean-girl, April 2007

We had only one child: the Bean-girl, aged two and a half. Our second child still waited in my womb, an unknown entity.

As we left our old city, my husband and I left long-held identities in academic science. My M.D./Ph.D.-holding husband made the decision to give up his lab (which he had headed for less than year) for the greener pastures of full-time clinical practice. And after being laid off from my former postdoc, and facing the bitter realization that after five years of postdocing my publication record was insufficient for the research job I had once dreamed of . . . I made the decision to step out. To have another baby. To focus on family, and re-evaluate my career goals.

Two weeks after we unpacked, the temperamental Midwestern sun decided to bring about summer from winter. The temperature soared, and we hit one of local lakeside beaches.

From the beginning, we have loved our new town. It is the most family-friendly place I have ever seen. The local mall, and many local businesses, set aside parking spots specifically for pregnant women and families with young children. Even the upscale restaurants have crayons and toys on hand for young diners. We don’t have to worry about a lack of changing tables in business restrooms.

My husband’s colleagues have become his good friends. He enjoys clinical practice, and finds that he doesn’t really miss research at all. I joined a local mothers’ group, and found a group of very smart, diverse, interesting, and supportive women. It’s been nice, and eye-opening, to step out of the bubble world of academia for a bit (although incidentally, a number of the moms in my group are married to academic men).

Baby Legume was born in June. Both of our children have thrived here.

There is much natural beauty in this geographical corner of the world (see picture of beach above). And although most coastal urbanites sneer at this part of flyover country, there are enough urbane pleasures to keep my husband and I happy. (decent sushi? I’m pretty much set).
Best of all, we are only an hour and a half away from my parents. The Bean Girls see their grandparents at least once a month, and usually more.

After the gypsy life of academic scientists-in-training, it’s nice to have an expectation of permanence. We mean to raise our children here, to watch them grow up in this house and graduate from the local schools. We mean to gain gray hairs here, and make friends that last longer than five or six years.

A while back, CAE wrote about what it’s like to always be watching friends leave, or to be the one leaving. I think this is part of why I never felt quite at home in old College Town, the place where Husband and I did our postdocs. We set foot in that town with the other foot already out the door. We knew from the beginning that it was likely only a temporary stop. And while we made great friends in our labs and workplace, College Town was (or is, or should be) a mere layover for most of them as well.

It’s nice to feel that we can put down roots now. It’s nice to start feeling at home.


CAE said...

Roots are good! I love the feeling of being settled, especially now that we've bought a house and all that. It helps that Mr E Man's family and lifelong friends are here too. Vancouver is definitely home now.

Mad Hatter said...

That sounds wonderful. We've sort of put down roots reluctantly here, more because this is where we have jobs we love than because we have an affinity for the city. Perhaps someday we'll find the jobs we love in a city we love.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

yay for roots! I believe it was Wallace Stegner who said that people who wander too much find their roots wither instead of being nourished by the stability of place. I'm still looking for a place to put my roots.

The bean-mom said...

Wayfarer scientists--good luck in finding that place to put down roots!

mad hatter--hope you eventually live in that dream city, or that the city you now live in grows on you and becomes more like home. Hey, it happens!

Cae-Vancouver sounds like a wonderful place to put down roots!

science cog said...

This is such a nice post. Thinking the same thing I followed spouse. Now trying to find something for myself. said...

This will not have effect as a matter of fact, that's what I suppose.