Monday, April 16, 2018

The Definition of Home

Home sweet home.  Home is where the heart is.  There's no place like home.  A house is not home without family.  There are so many ways to define what is home.  However one wants to put it, I can define it in one word for the last 13 years:  Nevada.

I will spare the details, but I made the move to Las Vegas in 2005 after graduating from college.  My girlfriend (now wife) and I were done with school and looking for jobs, jobs that just weren't available in Michigan at the time, and since we both grew up there, we were looking to try something new.  So we loaded up everything we owned (except my mountain bike, that didn't fit in the truck, so a buddy got a nice parting gift from me) and drove 2000 miles to start our post-college lives.  We had no idea if we would like it, how long we would be here (we thought it may only be a couple of years before we moved on to other things), etc.

Fast forward 13 years and many things have changed.  We are both a little bit older, closer to 40 than 30, we have two amazing kids that are "Battle Born", we are accustomed to the dry heat (humidity is BRUTAL now) and the lack of a winter, and we have made some fantastic friends that are like family to us, which made the thought of leaving Las Vegas (not the Nicholas Cage movie) utterly impossible.

Over the course of the past few years, my wife has been trying to get into graduate school to earn her master's in speech pathology.  SLP grad programs are very competitive and much to her frustration, she has been rejected by several schools.  However, my wife is a trooper and while she has been frustrated, she hasn't quit in her attempt to get into school.  This past fall, she began the familiar process of completing applications, gathering letters or recommendations, and writing essays on why she would be a great graduate student.  This time, she chose to apply to three schools:  the University of Nevada, Reno, Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.

After all of the work she put into the application process for each school, it was then time for the "hurry up and wait" game.  Each school had their deadlines to submit, then a tentative date in which applicants would be notified.  Of course, those dates are tentative; each school extended their deadlines for applications, pushing the notification dates back.  I assured my wife that all that it meant was that a lower number of people applied, but she was dreading that it meant she was going to be rejected again.

In mid-February, she got an invite to go to Grand Rapids to interview for one of the openings at GVSU.  The interviews took place on her birthday, which threw a wrench into our plans to go to a Golden Knights game, but this was a much better gift.  A few days later, she was notified that she had been accepted to Grand Valley's program and had until April 15 to accept or decline.

Meanwhile, there were two other schools that had yet to make their decisions.  She hadn't heard much from Western Michigan, so they became an afterthought.  However, UNR was still deciding and we were hoping that she would be accepted to give us options in the decision-making process.  Until that decision was made, I began the process of looking for jobs in Michigan and Northern Nevada.

By the time spring break rolled around the last week of March, UNR still had not made their decisions.  At this point, it was looking like a move to Michigan was on the horizon.  My wife and I started looking at housing, I applied for several jobs, and friends of ours that we went to high school and college that live in the Grand Rapids area began helping us and getting excited that we may be moving back to Michigan.  However, on April 3, the Tuesday after spring break ended, the email that my wife was hoping to get came through.

On that Tuesday, I received an email from Washoe County School District informing me that my application had been accepted and that they wanted to schedule an interview and to contact them.  I called my wife to tell her about it and asked if I should schedule it.  In the course of the conversation, I got the answer when she got an email from UNR to notify her that she had been accepted to their program.  Since the deadlines to accept were closing in fast, a serious conversation had to happen to decide where the Anderson family would be heading for the next couple of years.

After careful consideration of many factors, my wife and I decided that the best fit for her program and our family's move would be to Reno, Nevada.  As of this writing, I have some leads on some jobs, we have signed a lease for an apartment (which is going to be an adjustment, going from a house back to an apartment), and with the help of my friend Ben Dickson, we have found a great school for our kids to attend next fall.  While I couldn't be prouder of my wife and the opportunity ahead of her, it is going to be bittersweet pulling up our roots and settling somewhere else.  The next few months will be crazy but come July, we will be settling down in Reno, ready to start the next chapter of our lives. 

Until next time...