It is time to start channeling James Taylor. I received my offer letter from the University of North Carolina, and pending a criminal background check, I will be beginning my employment in Chapel Hill on July 1. I am thrilled.
I am a person who has had many lifelong dreams, some more realistic than others. I was never going to be a member of the New York City Ballet, but living in North Carolina, one way or another seemed much more realistic. When I was a child, I had my house picked out. It was situated on the corner of Sharon Road and Sharon Lane in Charlotte, NC. Grammy would give me semi-annual updates concerning the state of my house. I learned about when the lawn was brown or when it was the showcase Symphony Guild home. The specific reality of owning that home is not the reality, nor is it likely to become one. After all, I am not moving to Charlotte, but Chapel Hill.
I never applied to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I grew up feeling like I bled Tarheel blue, and yet never applied to attend. My mom went there long before I came along, and for graduate school, Sarah followed in her footsteps. Sarah moved to Boston to do her post doc, and missed Carolina so much she had to go back. I always felt like, at some point in time, my chance to live in Chapel Hill would come along too.
It happened really fast. I am quite content with my job at Georgetown, so I never thought that I would leave it this quickly. Then one day, sometime in March, I saw a job posting for the exact job that I thought that I would want next, and it just so happened that it was posted as a position at UNC. I thought that I would be mad at myself if I didn’t apply, because I would always wonder what would have happened. So I applied. I didn’t expect to get an interview, because I figured that people with much more experience than me would also apply, because who wouldn’t want to live in Chapel Hill? Approximately one month later, I head they were checking my references. I was shocked and couldn’t believe that they were considering me. A few days later, I received a phone call. They wanted to schedule an interview. I jumped and committed to the first day they mentioned as a possible interview date. I drove down to Chapel Hill. I really liked the people and the library. I started thinking to myself how great it would be to move there. We could buy a house with a yard for Knightley. We could live in a fantastic school district for if we ever have children. We could say goodbye to DC twenty four hour traffic. Two days after my interview, I was offered the job.
This is a hard move to contemplate. When I left New York, I just wanted to be close to David, so I was very motivated to leave. When I left Seattle, I just wanted to be out of that place. Here is the thing – I like DC. We have good friends here and more who are moving here. And yet, I feel so strongly that Chapel Hill is the right place to be. Yes, I will be able to live in the same town as Sarah, be near to Grammy, and even four hours closer to my parents. All of those things feel great, but what really convinced me is that I want to live in a place that feels like a home. I want to live somewhere that feels like it could be a hometown for my children. I want to live somewhere where I feel grown-up and away from the status-conscious world of ambition and egocentricity. I feel like Chapel Hill is that place. The people there are smart, well-educated, and yet lack the pomp and circumstance of their well-educated neighbors to the north. Most people there can attend a pig-pickin‘ or a play, and all without the affectation of self-importance. I feel like Goldilocks searching out for a place to put down roots, and every place so far has been too cold. I feel very strongly that Chapel Hill could be just right.