I am not good at leaving places. The summer before I started high school, my team spent a long week in Pulaski, Tennessee, a wretched place. We slept on hard tiled classroom floors, the only good thing about which was that the tile was cool at night, and summers in middle Tennessee are blazing. We played basketball for 10 or 12 hours a day and got sick on long john silvers fish. I got kicked out of a game for fighting with a girl who weighed way more than me, and our coach yelled and yelled and yelled at me and our point guard, the only two rising freshmen who would (he could only hope at the time) become starters that year. I should have been miserable--it was objectively miserable--but I cried when we left.
When I left for Illinois from central PA in the summer of 2000 to start my new job as an assistant professor, with my new (to me) whippet Jada rolled up in the back seat next to my big television, I went off the road a couple of times because my vision was all blurry and watery. State College had been so good to me.
When I left Illinois the first time (and yeah, yeah, as one colleague helpfully pointed out, I know we can't come back again), I was totally fine, quietly excited even, until I went to give my office keys to the secretary, a sweet woman who had just started working in the English department. One moment I was cheerfully offering her my keys, and the next moment I was sobbing so uncontrollably that her eyes filled with tears. Before that day, she had never even met me.
All this is to say what some of you already know: we are moving. I told my last phd advisee yesterday, and appropriately it was the most wrenching of the conversations. Let's just say there were, once again, tears, and I have been mopey ever since. If I think about how great my Aristotle students have been this semester, I'm afraid I'll break down even more.
JM and I are very, very excited about where we are going (Penn State), but the joy of going to a great department where rhetoric is cheered by department heads and higher-ups alike, and where there are hills to bike and hike, and where there is my favorite indian restaurant ever, and where E! and Z will both be seven or eight hours closer, still does not make it any easier, any less heartbreaking, to leave a wonderful place with such smart, good people and great friends.