02 August 2011

From the desert to the prairie

Since Kathleen and I met and decided to share an apartment back in 1989, we've moved eight times. In a couple of weeks we'll be doing that for the ninth time.

It's kind of ironic--we met when both of us were in government service, and one of the reasons we left government service was because we didn't want to move every few years.

Turns out it was less the jobs than who we are.

I can't speak for Kathleen, but against all odds (back in the eighties, I would have bet that I'd live and work within 10-15 miles of my hometown for the rest of my life), I seem to have become a change junkie. That's not to say there hasn't been a good reason for each and every of those eight (soon to be nine) moves, it's just to note that I've discovered that I kinda enjoy and even look forward to it.

One thing that makes moving immeasurably easier is not having preconceptions about where we're going. Our next destination is Brookings, South Dakota. I'm not sure many people who weren't born and raised in South Dakota would aspire to live there. But having had the opportunity to visit the town a couple of times, I can emphatically say that I do.

It's a terrific place, about three times the size of the town where I grew up, but I'm not letting its size worry me. We've also lived in what's arguably the largest metro area in the western hemisphere--the Valley of Mexico--so whether bigger or smaller, I'm confident we'll adjust.

I had the chance today to chat on the phone with a guy at a local appliance store up there. We need a washer and dryer, and I want to swap out the electric range for a gas stove in the house where we'll be living.

It's hard to explain exactly what it is, but talking to the guy I had a profound sense of coming home. Here was someone who'd never met me, working with me to figure out the logistics of what I was trying to do, and apparently more concerned about making sure I was going to be satisfied with the service his business was going to provide than with whatever inconvenience my requests might cause him. Wow.

And because we were able to have that kind of comfortable chat, I also found out he's got a fifty-year-old, 40-inch gas range out in his warehouse that will be PERFECT for the old-fashioned kitchen in the new place. He's going to send me a photo and have the gas lines in place and the stove installed by the time we get there.

No offense to the terrific folks in the Valley of the Sun, but that kind of service isn't something I've been able to find around here.

And the woman up there who's been helping us make the arrangements to move in? Let's just say I know the first people I'm inviting to dinner once we get settled. Allison has been nothing less than amazing. We're running out of exclamation points to punctuate the e-mails we've had going back and forth.

Anyhow, none of this is to say living in the greater Phoenix area hasn't been a great ride. I'm going to miss this place and the people we've worked with and gotten to know, as much or more than anyplace we've been over the past 22 years.

Nowhere else have I been able to see flowers in bloom on the way to work every single day of the year. And I can easily imagine us returning 5-6 years down the line. The heat some complain about here is more like a giant heating pad for my aging bones when I come out of work every evening. This IS a great place to live.

But I'm sure it's not the ONLY great place to live--we're heading for another likely prospect in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to all of the new people, new experiences, and yes, new challenges that implies.

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