A soon-to-be-new colleague of Mark's came into town with a friend to scout out the housing and daycare situation for he and his family. He asked Mark and I to join them. Mark gets excited about this kind of stuff. Me? Not so much. As the only non-scientist, the thought of sitting with three guys talking proteins and molecules for a couple of hours over dinner seems as miserable as going to look at tool rentals.
But I had no better offer on a Saturday night in the Cow Town.
We met at a barbecue restaurant. The friend was there on a fact-finding mission himself - entertaining the idea of moving to Kansas City as well. It took about five minutes for me to figure out that this was not going to be one of those kinds of dinner.
Both of them hammered us with questions about the area. Where to live? Our neck of the woods if you know what's good for you. Housing prices? Shockingly low compared to the east coast. Job market for teachers? Just offered early retirement to three hundred teachers in our school district so tell your wife to check out this website. Traffic? Well, people here think there's a bit of it but if you've lived anywhere else you will be delighted.
It was a conversation that was so very reminiscent of us when we moved across the country. Excited and scared of what lie ahead with a five-year-old and a toddler in tow. Housing, schools, banks, grocery stores and babysitters all to figure out. It was our grandest adventure. In it together long before cell phones, debit cards or GPS we held hands and jumped into the deep end of our new life here. It has worked out but there have been plenty of times when we wondered if we did the right thing, when as a stay-at-home mom I was lonely for friends and family for far longer than I would have thought. The years Mark has swam against a tide that believes that only the best science comes from the coasts. We overcame the obstacles and made a life, and we shared our stories with two professionals trying to do what's best for their careers, their spouses and the babies that are already on the way.
When Mark and his colleague became engrossed in a conversation about the university, the friend looked at me and said, "So are you guys looking forward to being grandparents?"
I stared blankly.
In the nostalgia of our conversation I had forgotten that more than twenty years had passed by. That the house got bought, the bank and schools settled on, the friends made. That the kids long ago outgrew babysitters and bedrooms and we'd gotten older.
And then when my thoughts drifted back I looked at him, smiled and said, "Oh yes. You can only imagine how lovely the thought of it seems."