When we embarked on our trip last October, we had in hand a return ticket to Seattle but no real idea where we were going from there. We had handed over the keys to our apartment in Bethesda and resigned from our jobs. We weren’t planning to return to D.C. Our belongings were piled into a Ryder van and moved to my parents home in Kentucky. Our final destination, the place we would call home when our year in the world was up, was unknown to us. Anything and everything was a possibility. NYC? Denver? Phoenix? North Carolina? West Coast? East Coast? Europe? Though we couldn’t quite see ourselves in the Deep South or the smack middle of the U.S., we weren’t ruling anything out. We left our futures up to fate.
Some people wondered if we’d just decide to keep on traveling, but I think we both knew that wouldn’t be the case. We love travel. We love this adventure. We will forever be planning or taking a trip, but we both have things we want to accomplish, opportunities we want to pursue that require a commitment to a time and place.
Some people suggested we consider settling overseas, perhaps calling Europe home for a few years, and when we left we thought that was an option solidly on the table. Yet after a year away from family and friends, we are ready to be a bit closer. We want to be able to talk to them more, see them more. I can’t say that a stint in Europe doesn’t have appeal, but it doesn’t fit for us right now.
As with Europe, other options lost their luster over the course of the year. The opportunities there weren’t right. The weather wasn’t good. The flight connections home to Louisville and Seattle were crap. We weren’t really big city people after all.
In the end, I think fate intervened. Jeff found a lab doing exactly the kind of work he wanted to do in an area that we’d talked about with interest for years. The lab, in turn, found Jeff to be an appealing candidate for a position there. A good friend of ours from D.C. took a position at the same place and reported back to us nothing but good things. Multiple friends of ours who had grown up, lived in, or gone to school in the area sang its praises.
Without ever really deciding, we seem to have come to a decision. This fall we will be moving to North Carolina, specifically the research triangle area of Raleigh-Durham- Chapel Hill. It’s a move we’re both excited about, though it’s also a move into the complete unknown. Neither of us have ever been to the area. In fact, we’ve only been to NC once, and it was to Asheville. I guess some people might consider this crazy, but we just consider it an adventure. We’ve spent a whole year going to places we don’t know much about; why not go ahead and live somewhere we’ve never been?
So now that you know where we’re going you’re probably wondering what we’ll do when we get there. Well Jeff has just received full funding to do research on RNA regulation in Dr. Jack Keene’s lab at Duke University. He’s back to the microscopes and centrifuges, a prospect that might make many of us run but which he regards with great anticipation. He’s lucky in that he honestly enjoys what he does, and he’s good at it to boot.
As for me, well I’m going to be a writer. I’ve just agreed to a contract to write the Moon Kentucky guidebook, so I’ll ease back into the real world researching my favorite state. This means that although we’re moving to North Carolina, I’ll actually be splitting time between there and Kentucky. And while I’m very much looking forward to writing this book and perhaps doing a few other travel pieces to have a bit of money flowing in, what I will be doing the rest of the time is writing fiction. Or at least trying to. It’s about time I pursued a dream deferred. I don’t know if I’ll succeed or fail, but I do know that I’ll regret it if I don’t give it a try.
So there it is. Our future, at least the next small snippet of it, laid out. And while we’re very much looking forward to it, now that we’ve thrown it out there for all the world to know, we’re going to lay it aside for a while. We still have six weeks left on this trip, and more than anything knowing what lies ahead gives us a freedom without worry to enjoy every single remaining minute.