M2NYi30ES – Background
The idea of moving is generally unattractive. And that’s for normal people. For me, any move is just another in a long series of moves. People ask if I am an “Army brat” if I absentmindedly reveal that I attended seven different elementary schools. I wasn’t an Army brat. That status would have offered a measure of comfort by contrast to the vagaries of my childhood since military life imparts a sense of stability. Olive drab is, after all, olive drab, the world around.
Instead, for me each move was just another jarring adjustment. Finding myself always “the new kid” got easier after the first few moves because I knew I’d have to fight somebody and stopped trying to avoid it. I just got it over with in the first day or two. (A guy has to make friends somehow, doesn’t he?) But after these childhood experiences, and after getting out of my parents’ house and off to college, I really grew fond of having some sameness in my life from year to year.
Then I married a woman who decided she wanted to become a doctor. Medical training, by its nature, requires regular uprootings. The first step, medical school at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, was “on her.” She would be only 90 minutes away, and Greenville’s many seductive charms were just not sufficient to entice me to leave a stable job. I visited on weekends, to “be there for her” while she slept and studied. Four rather dull years later it was time for the first move I couldn’t get out of–from the Research Triangle of North Carolina to Charlottesville, VA. where my wife “matched” for her residency program in Neurology at UVA Hospitals.
This was a significant life event for me. I had lived in and around Chapel Hill for 25 years and had expected to stay there indefinitely, but this move actually was attractive for one main reason. My previous wife had taken my son to Charlottesville about a decade earlier, and by now he was into his adolescence. The idea of spending more time with him was attractive, and it seemed like a good time for a boy to have his Dad around, so I tried to be positive. I also thought that, being an experienced teacher with credentials in several subject areas, I could get a job just about anywhere.
That plan did not foresee the local school district’s decision to institute a hiring freeze just as we got there. Anticipating future expansion, the district decided to handle their few vacancies by shifting people around within the district, so my applications went pretty much ignored. The hiring freeze stayed in effect for the entire three years we lived there, so my “moving luck” was staying consistent. I filled my days–but not exactly my bank account–substitute teaching in the district schools. I also got into refereeing college and high school soccer games all over the western part of Virginia. Since both jobs involved taking crap from kids, I was well supplied with that, but not much else.
The three years in Charlottesville passed peacefully. When your wife is working 120-hour weeks, you tend to have a lot of peace around the house. But as the residency program came to a close, I was made aware that this would not be the end of our travels. A three-year fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City would follow the residency program, and so we would be moving again. What is the plural of fait accompli? Oh, yes. Faits accomplis. I should know; my life has been full of them, courtesy of my lovely little “life partner.”
The idea of living in NYC was not so unattractive, really; I just knew the move would be a God-awful affair. Sometimes I hate being right, but I wasn’t quite right, actually. The move was way worse than God-awful. I would have loved God-awful. This move turned into one of those marathons of endurance and forbearance that seem improbable when considered in the abstract, but when you find yourself living through them, well, it is all too real, and your only choice is simply to persevere.