We went on a road trip to our old town this weekend.
It took us six and a half hours, which is only a little off our personal best time of five hours, fifty minutes (which occurred when I drove a Toyota Supra and, apparently, had very little fear of the Highway Patrol). These guys made it interesting, but they really did a good job, sleeping a lot and getting really excited about all the farm equipment (it's cotton planting season).
As usual, Charlie's favorite part was the hotel. At one o'clock in the morning when we finally, gratefully, slid our key into the door, Charlie skipped to one of the huge queen sized beds, climbed right in, and said good night. Wes's favorite part was the breakfast room with all the waffles you can eat.
After breakfast I sneaked off to my favorite coffee shop in the whole world to put the finishing touches on a paper I'm submitting to an on-campus research journal at my new school. Then a friend stopped by to say hi and we had a really nice long uninterrupted talk and I wondered why we ever left this town.
The boys stayed at the hotel to get to know their friend cousin Jay (not his real name), son of my friend A.
Charlie was so happy to have a few minutes to catch up on the finance news when all those little kids went down for a nap.
Ryan went to have lunch with his old advisor, so I took the boys out to my old office to pick up some books I forgot three years ago when we moved. I was told that it was just a few things and that they were not in the way, so I didn't rush to pick them up. Turns out it was three boxes of textbooks, binders, notebooks, and another bag of miscellaneous items from my desk, including CDs full of wedding pictures, some applesauce, and a bottle of Tums. When the embarrassment subsided it was actually quite motivating to see how hard I used to work. Binder after binder of meticulous notes, references, and data. It seems like a lifetime ago that I worked at that desk.
Then I took the boys out for a delightful Mexican lunch, including sopapillas, and went to the campus to meet Ryan for some very dignified and scholarly activities.
The next day we got to tour around the research center and check out all the work they are doing out there.
Apparently I have a little bit of old man in me because when one of the current grad students related to me the story of the night they had to work extra hard at deploying the new met towers that they didn't get to the hotel until eleven-fifteen at night I immediately retorted "On my first hurricane trip we drove from West Texas all the way to Key West without stopping, it took thirty-one hours. Then we slept in the trucks. In the morning we got up and deployed the towers in the outer rainbands. It took twelve hours." "Wow," was all he said. I may have scared him.
It was so good for me to go back there and see all of my professors and Dr. Advisor without the specter of my dissertation looming over my head. At the mixer Friday night I gushed to Dr. Advisor and some other professors about my current employment situation and the papers and proposal I have in mind to work on this summer. I was confident that I had found the right path for me and for the first time in years I wasn't totally consumed with dissertation angst. I met lots of new people and made some new contacts for a project I'm hoping to work on. I also bragged about the kids endlessly. The next day while in line for lunch Dr. Advisor said to me "You seem really happy. I'm so happy for you." He is a man of few words and it really meant a lot. It was a great weekend and very affirming of the choices I've made. I am so looking forward to working on some research projects and preparing for a new class over the summer. I'm also looking forward to sitting on the back porch eating orange juice popsicles with my kids. I am incredibly lucky.