Friday, August 22, 2008

Coming Home

many Triangle-ites, I am not actually from here.  I am a �transplant� - a Yankee, no less.  And it�s taken me a long time to feel like my roots have taken to the North Carolina clay.   For the first few years, I kept asking my husband and myself, �How did we get here?�

Again, like many other transplants who come to the area for the education, the job, or the singles� scene, we came for the job (my job that is).   Eleven years ago, we were living in Lexington while my husband attended the University of Kentucky.  We had discussed different �life-after-graduate-school� scenarios and the subject of coming to the Research Triangle Park kept coming up.  Since my husband is a scientist and my job is health care related, the Triangle was marked as one the few areas that would likely support both our careers.  It still seemed so far off in the future to me � something that we might do some day.  So I was somewhat surprised the day that he came home with a job posting for me in our future hometown.  Knowing that openings in my field of specialty are few and far between, we knew I had to go for it.  So I did and I got the job.  The future suddenly became the present.

I remember the day that I left Lexington and all the doubts and sadness that came with that leaving.  Our one car was packed with everything that I thought I might need in the next couple of months.  It was raining, an appropriate backdrop for how I was feeling.  My husband was to stay behind to finish his degree and sell our house.  I would go to North Carolina to start work and find us a place to live.  I would be on my own for the first time ever.  He stood on our front stoop, next to my best friend and our cat.  They looked the same as I felt -so sad, so lonely.  I drove away from my first home, my husband, my housemate.  I drove alone through the rain into my future.

The driving part felt good, actually.  Driving past all the sites I wished we had explored more:  down I75, past Berea, past Knoxville, down 40, across the Smokies in Autumn � beautiful even in the rain and even though 40 was still only one lane a year after Hurricane Fran, a stay-over in Asheville and then onto Durham.

Two months later, I made the trip again - this time, in a moving truck with my husband and the cat. There would be no going back. It was New Year�s Day, the start of a new year, new life and new home.  But for the next few years, we would reluctantly call this place home.  Home was back north where our folks lived, where we grew up.  Home was Lexington, KY � the place we started our married lives together, where we bought our first house.  We lived in North Carolina, but it was not home, not yet.

For a long time, I only knew the area between our house and the hospital.  We didn�t go out much.  We were too old for the college bar scene and since we didn�t have kids, we didn�t fit into that crowd either.  We didn�t really fit in anywhere.  A nurse I worked with at the hospital told me once, �This is a hard place to get to know.  It will take you about five years.�  I was shocked at the time but it turns out she was right.  Five years later, our oldest son started preschool and we finally found our people, our community.  We finally knew people who had children our son�s age, who were expecting another child like we were.  Having a child opened up a new world for us � I started going places with our son and learned my way around town.  I started to meet people we would call friends.  I learned what a great place the Triangle is to raise a family. 

On our last trip up north to visit family, I realized that when we spoke of North Carolina, we finally called it home.  When we drove back and crossed the border from Virginia, I read the sign out loud, �Welcome to North Carolina.�  I looked into the backseat and said to our restless children, �Look, we�re almost home guys.�  It took along time, but we have roots here.  The Triangle is home.  And I can�t imagine living anywhere else.

This post is original to Triangle Mamas.  Susie lives in Durham with her husband and three sons.  She keeps a personal blog titled At Home With Me. 

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