last week i was in miami for the first time since i left more than two years ago. the trip was one day's worth of work (well, 3 hours) and a few days of play. luckily my friend karen still lives there in her beachfront apartment, so i had an awesome crashpad.
walking around the university where i used to work and the neighborhood where i used to live, i was overcome by these odd feelings that were somewhat nostalgic and something else that i can't put my finger on. something a bit more complicated. it took me the better part of monday to figure out what was going on.
i left miami in such a hurry that at the time my only thoughts and emotions were of relief -- getting a better paying job at a university where the leadership wasn't dysfunctional, and moving to a part of the country that i knew would be a better fit for me. it was a month from the date of the offer until i pulled my car out of the driveway of my building and headed north and then west. i had no time to really reflect and process the move, it was all a flurry of finishing work, packing and goodbye lunches and dinners.
being back there after two years brought on a rush of emotions and thoughts to which i hadn't given much attention. it was a mix, some of familiar annoyance, thanks to the experience at the rental car counter in miami beach...the car jockeys taking 20 minutes to get my car after i'd finished the paperwork -- a reminder that half the people working in the customer service industry view their customers as annoyances. a similar experience at the versailles airport coffee stand bookended the trip, as the lady who took my order pretty much sneered at my gringo face.
but at my old workplace i had feelings more complicated than nostalgia...there was plenty of "what-if" mixed up in my head. what if i'd made it work better, published as i should have, gotten my personal life settled...would i have been happy, made better progress to tenure? maybe, or maybe not as the experiences of other friends made clear. one guy who published like a fiend is leaving, landing at a tenured gig in southern california. two other friends, who became a couple, are going to leave as she inexplicably did not get tenure and he may but they're both so disenchanted now it's a certainty they're gone.
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