Saturday, January 22, 2005

ObOpeningNote: The song meme list remains open -- visitors are encouraged to chip away at it!

We've been trying to see as many Kalamazoo friends as possible (as well as friends from other nearby cities), which has kept us at least as busy as has packing. Rebecca drove up from Toledo and made us a batch of matzoh ball soup. Some other folks may be driving out from Lansing tonight, if the snow clears sufficiently. A group of activist friends are having us over tomorrow night. And, last night, we said so long to many of my WMU biologist friends in a ritual that began at a local brewery, ended up at a sports bar/restaurant near my home, and probably killed several billions of brain cells divided evenly among a few dozen people.

If you're moving away from a place where you have lived for a very, very long time, one problem is that some old friends will make it clear to you, over and over, how upset they are that you're leaving. It's a sweet sentiment, and hearing it once or twice makes you feel appreciated, but after a while, it just doesn't help. One acquaintance of ours -- not a close friend, but someone whose company I'd always enjoyed -- started in on that theme nearly two years ago, when my job hunt wasn't going anywhere. "Good," this person practically shouted at me, without smiling, "that means you're staying." I'd just had a funding request turned down for an overseas research project that I really, really wanted.

Needless to say, I've been avoiding this person ever since. (I'm trying to imagine a parallel in the realm of insensitivity. The closest I can come up with: "I'm glad your fiance dumped you. You'll have more time to hang out with me if you're not married.")

But, the good friends we've been seeing lately, and especially the biologists, understand what has to be done. Kalamazoo is the only place in which I have, to date, ever felt really at home. That includes my home town, which I left with essentially zero homesickness in 1974, and Boston, with which I had a 17-year platonic relationship (and where Rick was always unhappy). Our 13-year residence in the Bug House is a personal record for me in a single residence, and nearly ties Rick's stay in his childhood home. We're now on our way to a place that we expect to like and enjoy, but under circumstances that are by nature temporary. If we weren't willing to do this, the probability that I'd ever find real work in my chosen field would be pretty close to zero. A somewhat larger city will be a better place for Rick, too, especially with some of the career transitions he's going through right now.

Simply stated: The friends who are being most helpful are the ones who realize both how important and how difficult this is for us, too.

ObClosingNote: Be very careful about drinking large quantities of anything with the word "bloody" in its name if you have to get up and shovel snow in the morning.


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