As of tomorrow, I’ll have lived in Georgia for two years. And as of tomorrow, it’ll have been three years since I graduated from CMU with my master’s degree.
I think it’s safe to say these have been the best two years of my life so far. I won’t say it’s been perfect, but nothing ever is. I feel like I’ve settled fairly well into the South: the heat doesn’t bother me as it once did, I do not miss northern snow, and “you guys” has mostly been replaced by “y’all” in my speech patterns, especially when I’m at work, without sounding forced or phony. When I say “you guys” now, it feels wrong, which is funny given that I lived someplace where that was an appropriate way to address a group of people for 25 years. Also, when I talk to some members of my family on the phone, they claim they can hear a little of the South in my voice now. (I’m not ashamed of that in the least. My uncle had a bit of an accent when he moved back to Michigan after living for several years in Tennessee.) I’m sure I’ll readjust if we move back to the Midwest at some point.
Of course, I find myself missing my family quite a lot these days. I’ll see some of my immediate family (at least my parents, grandparents, and sister) in July, but I miss my brother and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins too. At least the internet exists so I can stay in touch with everybody and keep up with what they’re doing. At the same time, it’s been wonderful to be here in Georgia where Dallas is happiest and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know his family. His parents are like another set of parents to me, and I know a lot of people don’t feel that way about their in-laws. I am very lucky.
It does pain me that, three years out, I’m still not directly using my degree. However, I’m using a lot of the skills I learned while working towards that degree in my day-to-day life. It’s surprising how much reading comprehension and research skills help in visual merchandising and product identification. (It also helps that I know most of the merchandise pretty well at this point.) I’m not sure what I’m doing now is necessarily a career, but I guess I wouldn’t mind terribly if it turned into one–with reasonable pay and hours, of course. In the seven months I’ve been with the company, I’ve learned how to do a lot of different jobs, some more suited to my personality than others. My fingers are still crossed for the chance to do just store support, but with the current staffing situation, I don’t see that happening in the near future. They say good things come to those who wait, though, and I’ve found that to be true in the past, so hopefully it holds true here as well.
As of yesterday, Dallas and I have been together for three and a half years, and we’ve been through a lot in that time. We’re getting married in 82 days and after that we’ll have to see where the winds of academia drift us next. From the time I was very young, I wished to be somebody else or somewhere else. For the first time in my life, I’m truly happy to be where I am and who I am, and I feel like I can be myself instead of putting on an act. It’s still a little overwhelming to think about, but I think that’s a good place to be.