Carolina on Our Minds

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.

26 Replies to “Carolina on Our Minds”

  1. Jeff, Congratulations! I am so glad you were able to find the position you were looking for. I am so excited for both of you and can’t wait to read another book with my daughter’s name on it. We’ll see you both in 55 days.

  2. Congratulations Jeff & Thee! I am so excited for you both, and um, a little jealous that you are going to get to live in an absolutely wonderful place. You’ll love it, and we’ll come visit. Enjoy your last weeks on the road!

  3. Congratulations to both of you –sounds like life will continue to be exciting even after October! Enjoy your last six weeks of travel and we’re so looking forward to seeing you again soon!

  4. Congrats to you both. Best wishes to both. And I am thrilled you will still be on the East coast. I h ave been dying to get down to NC for some of that BBQ…now I have another reason to go.

  5. Congratulations!! I love the research triangle area, it sounds like the ideal fit for you both. It will be fun to see you, Theresa, as you work on your book about Kentucky. Take care until we see you in the Fall!

  6. Your next adventure sounds exciting! I’m already looking forward to the Moon Kentucky book. If I find myself near Kentucky while you’re researching, I’d love to do a trail or two with you. Enjoy the rest of your travels!

  7. Hi! I’m an undergrad student at UNC Chapel Hill (We just call it Carolina) and I’d like to welcome you to the Tar Heel state! I’m studying abroad In Uruguay and planning a lot of traveling, so I’ve been lurking around a lot of travel sites, but when I saw that your trip was ending and that you were settling where I live (if not at this moment, at least for the year after this) I couldn’t help but comment!

    You will also be exposed the the diversity of BBQ–there’s western BBQ and eastern BBQ and then what everyone out of the south considers BBQ. Western BBQ: with ketchup. Eastern BBQ: with vinegar and everyone else: anything that is chopped, slow cooked meat.

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the area: restaurants, housing, buses, distances, anything. As a traveler currently on the road, I love to talk about my home!

  8. Congratulations! We absolutely loved Durham when we lived there and North Carolina is our favorite state in the USA. When you get a few minutes to breathe, definitely check out Sarah P. Duke Gardens. It is one of our very favorite places in Durham.

    I’ve enjoyed reading all about your trip — we are getting ready to hit the road for our year long adventure and am so glad that it is finally here. πŸ™‚

  9. Congrats! I’ve been reading your blog since very early on (before you even had a firm departure date for your trip!) and I will miss reading about your travels. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been almost a year – I’m sure you both feel the same way!

  10. Duke? Coach K. Christian Laettner. So on and so forth. Seriously? We can’t be friends anymore Jeff. I don’t care the circumstances. And Theresa, you know my feelings about books. But I can be found to rarely be reading a non-fiction book, but I don’t do fiction. Nope. Because in the end I know my imagination is better than the story. But despite all of this, and its a lot, congratulations. My company already saved the Cape Hatteras light houses years ago, and I don’t know any NC jobs on the table. Sorry.

  11. We’re going to be neighbors! We’re living in Durham, Theresa! And Ellen O’Nan (now Powell) is living right down the road in Raleigh. I think you’re really going to like it here, and I am so more than happy to help you guys with whatever you need to start your next adventure here in NC. Take care!

  12. Congrats to both of you! Jeff, I can’t wait to hear how you went through the job application process while traveling the world. T, I’m just hoping I’ll be invited along on one of your KY adventures!

  13. Congratulations! I will be looking for employment coming soon next year, so Theresa can you ask the publisher to pay me to fill the position of travel companion? I think I’d be good at it.

  14. Congrats!!! I’m so excited for you all!!! Dave’s brother Matt and his wife Kasey just moved down to Durham, because Kasey started her residency at UNC. We plan to visit them this spring/summer, so we’ll have to visit you all too!

  15. Congrats Jeff! Congrats Theresa! I am looking forward to joining you on a leg of your Kentucky adventure. Jeff, not so much looking at RNA.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip and see you both soon!

  16. Well I obviously missed this post when I wrote “if you ever make it to NC” in your scuba post. We are in Charlotte – but hear the triangle area is a fantastic area to be. We’re heading to Asheville in a couple weeks for the Brewgrass Festival – perhaps I overlooked this as well, but any chance you’ll be back in time to join us?

  17. Theresa and Jeff – I was finally catching up on your adventures…and I’m glad to hear you will be in NC soon! Once this wedding business is over and you guys are settled, we will have to visit…


  18. It’s odd to think that after all this time reading your blog, that you’ll be settling into the same area that we settled in just about the time I started reading “y’all”. Enjoy the rest of your trip as much as we’ve enjoyed reading about it! Oh, and welcome to North Cackalacky!

  19. I’m finally getting caught up on your blog and I guess I should have read this earlier, because I’ve been wondering where you were going to settle! The jobs sound great and I can’t wait to read your novel (or short stories?) Theresa!! Congrats!

  20. Hi Teresa!

    We met briefly at Laura Gershman’s Wedding.

    We’re in the process of moving to NC also! We’re looking at homes in the Carrbaro area.

    We should grab a meal when we are both settled!!!

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