June 7, 2007

A few postings ago, I obliquely wrote about a trip Diane and I made last month to North Carolina. Now that things have become “official,” I can tell more about its purpose. Back in April, Diane received a job offer from the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University in Durham. After much discussion, she and I decided that it was the best decision in the long run for a number of reasons. The decision didn’t come easily by any means, because it would require stretching our financial resources to accommodate moving, selling or leasing our current house, and obtaining a house in Durham. Furthermore, I would need to find employment there. (During the trip, I interviewed at an institute that provides an intellectually stimulating and contemplative atmosphere for scholars in the humanities.)

Regarding our housing situation, we decided to go with leasing in both instances. We were lucky enough to see and secure a very nice house for a reasonable monthly rent in the southern part of Durham. (Our lease officially begins in early July.) For our current house, we learned that closing costs and realtor fees would make selling prohibitively expensive, so we will go through a leasing agency. We will likely lose some money on property taxes, but it seems like the better option at present.

As I mentioned in the posting about our North Carolina visit, the area is quite lovely. After just a few days there, we felt at home already, and we didn’t feel like going back to Texas. Practical matters like our current jobs and getting the house ready for the move, as well as picking up our dog from my parents-in-law, made us come back.

Of course, there are a few things I’m not too keen about with regards to Texas. Traffic gets crazy in the metropolitan areas, summers get too bloody hot, and I feel like a bit of a political outsider (except when we visit Austin). Still, I have developed quite an affection for the best that Texas has to offer, and I will miss all that when I leave. The first thing I can think of is the relative ease of traveling to various places in Texas for which I have a special affection, including Austin (which Diane and I managed to visit at least two or three times a year), the coastline along Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, and the natural beauty of the Hill Country (west of Austin for those who know little of Texas geography).

Besides missing favorite getaway spots, I will also miss the culinary delights found in Texas. Kolaches and kolbasniks at the Czech Stop in West (opposite the Czech Inn on I-35). The various independent restaurants found throughout Austin (Romeo’s, The Clay Pit, Zen, Amy’s Ice Cream) and in the Metroplex (Texas Pit Bar B Q, Thai Tina’s), as well as chains found almost exclusively in Texas (or not available in North Carolina), such as La Madeleine and Blue Mesa. We also won’t be able to see operas and concerts at Texas’ best performing arts houses (and I’ll miss the Dallas Opera’s production of Salome next year), but moving to the east will place us within reasonable driving distance of a number of other opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera itself.

Despite what we’ll miss in Texas, Diane and I will move to a relatively calm area with a number of great educational institutions whose names scholars and sports fans will recognize. Cultural opportunities will abound, and we will have a nice blend of independent and “big box” stores to fulfill our more mundane needs. (The area has four Whole Foods stores, too, so we can continue eating organic at home quite easily.) Melding the quotidian and the cultural, we encountered quite a few shops with a decent selection of classical and opera.

Although quite a number of issues need sorted out and plans need to be made, I look forward to making North Carolina my new home.


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