What a difference a few years make…

Last week’s letter to the kids could not have been written as recently as two or three years ago.  Maybe I am slow on the uptake or am a late adopter, but the region has had some impact on me, perhaps as the seas have calmed and my head has cleared.  What a difference a few years make.

It took me a while to see past some of the uncomfortable local politics and other nuances which were quite alien to a Midwesterner.  But look past them I have.


January 18, 2011

Ellen/Reid: Reid, I’m a little surprised at the turn of events relative to the new business opportunity vs. grad school.  You can’t serve two masters so by default it will need to be one or the other.  You’ll have an interesting decision to make so if you need someone to talk with, you know the number.  The big cautions remain the money and the potential harm to your friendship with Erik.  You need to keep that in mind, and I know this sounds like a squeaky wheel, but you can’t treat either of those lightly.

Never in a million years, Ellen, could you ever be envisioned as a downhill skier, but now you are one.  Black diamond runs, no less.  Those were the ruination of me the last time I attempted such derring-do.  I might as well have slid down on my bum.  John and Bruce could whistle down those but I was light years behind in skill and nerve.

I don’t know why, maybe it’s because people ask me about it now and again, but as I was driving around the other day it occurred to me that the move to North Carolina was maybe one of the best things that has happened to me as an adult.  Even in the face of all that has happened down here it has been, on the whole, a life-changing experience for me.  Sure, there have been potholes and setbacks now and then but on balance it’s been fine.  As you guys know from St. Paul and Chicago, there is something about new surroundings that force a person to make the best of what they have at the time.   It made me find a house and set it up (let’s not get into maintenance), handle all the nuances of an entirely new industry, and just overall to fend for myself economically, socially and otherwise.  Oddly enough the move came at a pretty good time in terms of cleaning the slate and beginning anew.  Although I might not have said this a year or two or three years ago, but this has been highly preferable to Des Moines for a lot of reasons given the circumstances.  I haven’t missed much about Iowa, physically that is, other than my friends which is still something of a heartache for me.  That has been by far the toughest part.  Yet not knowing a single soul down here was particularly helpful in that there were no distractions or explanations to be made in the inevitable chance encounters in Des Moines.  I could, and did, get on with things without bumping into someone I knew.  Not that anything about running into people was inherently bad but I could simply move forward.

Every once in a while I have a very strong moments of amazement; i.e. I am actually in North Carolina where they talk differently, the trees are different and the dirt is red.  And the sky is blue and there is an ocean a hop, skip and jump away.  Everything about it is different and that just stuns me.  I think that is the part that is in some ways still surreal.  And then the moment evaporates and I honk at the slowpoke in front of me at a red light.  Back to reality.

Tomorrow I head to Greensboro, North Carolina (about two hours up I-85) to visit a loan servicing center.  My first trip for the bank in nearly four years.  I stick around through Friday and then zoom home for a Friday night dinner Felicia and I will host for some friends of hers.  I’ve fallen back on an old standby menu, shrimp and pasta since those are the safest bets and it’s hard to screw up although if there is a way I will find it.

Reid, keep me posted on the business vs. grad school decision.  Be sure to make a list of the pros and cons for each.  It won’t be an easy decision by any means.  And Ellen, I hope Henry is feeling better and not so sore to the touch.  Temperatures are beginning to inch their way upwards but real warmth cannot happen fast enough for me.

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