The lack of a support network in Mystery State is one of the things that has and will continue to make my life harder over the next few years, and it is a big reason for pondering whether to go on the market again eventually. Here in Mystery City, we are 1100 miles from my parents and 1400 miles from Fish’s parents. Our closest family of any sort is an aunt and uncle 200 miles away, and we have very little connection with them. Our neighbors are pleasant enough, but we’ve found it very difficult to make good friends in this area. We’re simply too busy, and also too culturally out of place, to fall easily into friendships. All this means that no matter what confronts us, we’re on our own.
Take next week for example: Husband is out of town, so I need to constrain my schedule completely to daycare hours. I also need to go in the field with a student, and the field site is 3 hours away. That means I’ve got to hustle my little girl out of bed in the morning, drop her off, drive drive drive, work very fast, drive drive drive home, and pick her up before closing time. That leaves me with a maximum of four hours on-site. Our alternatives are: (1) toddler goes in field with me (6 hours in the car! 95 degree weather!); or (2) I don’t go in the field. Given those alternatives, four hours on site suddenly seems like a pretty good option. But what if I had a trusted friend or a grandma who could pick Minnow up from daycare taking the time pressure off me. Wouldn’t that be nice?
(It works the other way to, of course. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could help ScienceGrandma get the cabin cleaned up for sale?)
And that’s just a pretty petty example. I can’t even bear to think about what would happen to Minnow if I were suddenly hurt and hospitalized. Yesterday, as I was leaving campus, a car came screaming over a hilltop and missed me (in the crosswalk) by 2 feet. Who would I have called if that car hadn’t missed? I guess my neighbors would have stepped up to pick her up and care for her, but it wouldn’t be the same sort of automatic response as I’d have with family.
So what I am trying to say is that having a network of people (family, close friends) that you can call on and depend on is really important. And it’s not something I ever really appreciated until I found myself here, without one. So I for one, salute Katie for choosing to be close to her family. They’re there for her when life gets tough (or she needs to pack stuff) and she’s there for them when they need her too. It’s touching really. And I’m a little jealous.