10 years ago we packed up our house, watched our belongings disappear into a moving van (not to reappear for more than a week), said goodbye to our friends in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and hit the road, bound for Texas.
In an attempt to save a little money, we opted to drive both cars rather than have Tom's car towed behind the moving van. This meant that both Tom and I drove the entire way to Texas, and that when the kids were awake (we kept them together while they were awake and separated them during nap time), the parent with whom they were riding was singularly responsible for feeding, entertaining, and tending to them. Whew!
We were on the road for four days, and made overnight stops in Iowa City, IA; Lincoln, NE; and Norman, OK. (Not the most direct route, but we stopped to see and stayed with family members and friends along the way.) When we arrived in College Station, we picked up our keys and crossed the threshold into our new (temporary rental) house. The kids took to the house - and the weather - immediately, and settled in much more quickly than either Tom or I did.
Here's what I wrote about College Station after living here for about a month:
The pace of life is a little slower – I notice it in particular on the roads, but also in line at the grocery store, at restaurants, and when I drop off and pick up Will from preschool. People are generally friendly. The local barbecue and Mexican food is delicious, but many of my favorite restaurants and stores haven’t made their way here yet. There is a disc golf course on campus for Tom, but he has yet to encounter a Texan who actually knows what disc golf is. The daytime winter temperatures are mild, but the nighttime winter temperatures are still quite cold – in the 20s or 30s. I’m certainly not complaining about the weather now, but I can guarantee I will be come summer when the highs are in the 110s and the lows are in the 80s. In the "we’ll have to get used to this" category: most people drive huge pickup trucks or SUV's at least twice as big as Tom’s car, there are drive-through liquor stores that advertise drive-up windows large enough to accommodate semi-trucks, and some bars provide patrons with a to-go cup for unfinished beers. Just a few miles out of College Station is a "Cowboy Church", which church-goers attend on horseback. On the same stretch of road as the Cowboy Church we saw an entry to a ranch adorned with recently-slaughtered MOUNTAIN LIONS. So yeah, that’s what I can tell you about Texas so far.
At the time, we expected to stay in College Station for three years, or perhaps six at most. (Three years and six years weren't arbitrary time frames - each marked an important hurdle in Tom's career as a professor, and had his work not been going well, would have been a good time for us to move on.) We thought we'd settle in here, maybe enjoy a few years of not having to shovel snow, but that when the time and the right offer came, we'd move back to the Midwest to be closer to our families and for Tom to work at one of our/his alma maters.
Best laid plans, amiright?
The funny thing is, the "right" offers did come. And each time we decided to turn them down in favor of staying...for a little while longer...for a little while longer...for a little while longer...until one day we woke up and discovered that College Station had become home.
That's not to say we haven't at times taken issue with our adopted hometown. No city or state is perfect, and College Station and Texas are no exception; we struggled to adapt to, accept, or tolerate certain aspects of life here, while we unexpectedly embraced other aspects, including ones we had expected to dislike. The bottom line is that each time we weighed the good against the bad, the good won out.
So today I raise my glass to a decade in Texas. Cheers to 10 down, and many more to come.