A repeated theme of my blog is that I use it to share what I think, whether its political, personal, or … something else entirely. This post - like many! - is personal.
For whatever reason, I’ve been reflecting this fall on a specific winter from when we lived in Lansing, Michigan, when it was super, duper cold. There was a polar vortex, and temperatures were regularly (I remember in early January) -20F or colder. -20F! It was unbelievably cold. I remember staying inside and also biking to work (when it wasn’t that cold; closer to 0F). I wrapped my face in the warmest balaclava I could find and wore two pairs of gloves. I don’t really know how to capture that winter or my wife’s and my experience, except that it somehow bonded us to one another and to Michigan. I’ve lost track of years, but either that year or the year after, we stayed in Lansing for the winter break, not traveling to visit my wife’s parents in North Carolina or even to my parents near Detroit. During these times, I felt like we arrived in Michigan, even though they were years after we moved.
We moved to Knoxville in Summer, 2018, more than two years ago. To put it simply, the last two years have been bananas. I won’t say any more on that! They have been good, hard years. This fall, my wife and son and I started to fall into a routine. My wife had three night classes; I had one. By the time the weekend arrived, we were zonked! But, Saturday or Sunday, we would go somewhere outdoors. These trips started to line up, weekend after weekend (this was the 12th week of the fall semester). With them, we started to return to places we had been before; the Smokies, Frozen Head, Obed, Ijams.
I don’t feel like we have fully arrived in Knoxville. Thinking of Michigan, I think of refereeing at every single high school within an hour of Lansing. I think of stopping at every brewery near every high school within an hour of Lansing! I think of my wife starting a part-time position at Impression 5 Science Center and leaving more than five years later as a manager. I think of my wife and I taking an overnight bike trip together. I think of camping with Katie and getting stuck biking across Wilderness State Park. I think of friends. If I can say this in the context of what I’ll say next, I’d move back to Lansing in a heart beat if I could.
But, I think we may have arrived in Knoxville. I think of camping with my son for the first time at Frozen Head. I think of trying to make it out to the mountains every weekend before it gets cold in the fall. I think of my wife toughing it out through two year’s of her MA program. I think of friends. I don’t know what living in Knoxville will bring; that’s an open question. But like living through a Michigan, I feel like we’ve lived through a strange, challenging fall, that we now live here, and that I’m thankful for that.