Homecoming

As most of you know by now, Jason & I will be moving back to Waco, TX the first week of June 2014. Here’s the story about how this came about.

Back in February, Jason and a few of his coworkers were at a Student Affairs conference in Fort Worth. He got into a conversation with someone in the residence life department at Baylor and realized that even though we’d originally decided to stay another year here in Commerce, that it would be easy to at least keep our eyes open to any job opportunities that might present themselves. Most of those opportunities we looked at at first weren’t going to be possible because a lot of universities don’t allow their hall directors to have cats, and there’s no way we’re giving up Andy. So while a few positions looked interesting, we didn’t apply for any.

Sometime mid-March, Baylor posted an Academic Advisor position. Jason had worked in academic advising during grad school, and had decided never to do it again unless he could work with a variety of students (he had primarily worked with probationary students, which is much more difficult) and advise in topics he enjoyed, like english and psychology, his undergrad studies. This Baylor position was in the College of Arts and Sciences, which houses both of his undergrads (and many more, including my own), and would definitely include all ranges of students. Within two days, Jason had submitted his application and we started playing the waiting game.

We didn’t hear anything until April 11. Jason got a call and was asked to interview on the 25th, the day before my birthday. The next two weeks were both long and short, filled with lots of preparation and studying. Finally, the day arrived, and we were both pretty nervous. The interview seemed to go well – it turns out the large majority of the department all have their undergrad degrees from Baylor (like Jason), and one of the two positions they were hiring for was to advise psychology students.

All of the signs from the day were incredibly positive, which made us very excited. Then we waited an entire week and three days for the background check to be completed. That was quite possibly the longest week of my life, I was simultaneously anxious and excited and it was a horrible combination. I stress ate everything and cried about it at least twice. So when Jason walked in the apartment this past Monday afternoon and said he got the job, it really felt like a dream. It still feels like a dream.

It might seem overdramatic for me to say this is a dream come true, because seriously, it’s silly to dream about moving to Waco when there’s plenty of other places to live that are more dreamy. But here’s my list of why this is literally perfect for me/us:

  • We’ll be closer to home/family. Both of our families still live in Houston, which is only a three hour drive from Waco (compared to the five hours it takes from Commerce). Three hours is easy enough for a weekend trip – after all, that’s what I’ve been driving for Commerce-Waco all year – but five hours was too much for us to do without extra days to visit. We’d always have to wait until Jason got off work, which wouldn’t be until after 5 pm anyway, at which point we wouldn’t get to Houston until it was late. A five hour drive affects your whole day, whereas a three hour drive doesn’t need nearly as much planning. It will be nice knowing that going home is much more likely. Just as nice, my little sister is at school at UT in Austin, which is only an hour and half from Waco (four and a half from Commerce). She’ll be living off-campus next year, which means that she can come visit us whenever she’d like, and we can go visit her too!
  • More work opportunities. The hardest part about living in Commerce, a small college town of about 8,000 people, is that there are basically no work opportunities. The two largest employers are the university and Walmart. Most of the businesses don’t need many employees because of the small amount of business in the area, and the businesses that do already have all the employees they need, especially with the student population. Other than doing some babysitting for some of Jason’s coworkers, there really hasn’t been anything for me to do here. In college, that sounds like a perfect life – having a nice place to live while you can do whatever you want! Believe me, it’s a horrible life. You lose a lot of motivation to watch tv shows/movies/play video games when you literally have endless free time to do it. And there’s not really anything else to do, because towns this small don’t really have bookstores, or movie theatres, or malls of any sort, or any type of entertainment. I am very much a homebody, but even this was too much for me.
  • I’ll be able to work the games full-time again, and not have to drive in order to do so. I’ve driven back and forth from Commerce to Waco soooo many times this school year for football, basketball, softball, baseball games, and other video-related things. Believe me, it was so worth doing so for my psyche, but it was also incredibly exhausting. Most of the time, Jason couldn’t come with me, which meant that my free weekends were spent at home spending time with him, so I had less time to visit other friends. It was hard to visit all my Waco friends while in town for work because – obviously – I had time where I had to be at work. Being in Waco will not only allow me to work all the games I had to skip out on this year, but it also means that I won’t have to go three of four days without seeing Jason, plus I’ll be able to see everyone else throughout the week anyway.
  • CIVILIZATION. This was kind of mentioned up above, but there was VERY LITTLE TO DO HERE IN COMMERCE. Meanwhile, Waco pretty much has everything you’d really need on a day to day basis (TARGET, I HAVE MISSED YOU), and whatever it doesn’t have is probably in Austin or Dallas, both of which are an hour and a half drive away. Easy enough. I’m excited about having access to all these shops and entertainment options again, while Jason is thrilled about the parks and geocaching opportunities. We’ll miss having the ability to race to Walmart to buy one thing and being able to get in and out within 10 minutes (seriously, it was so easy), but I think sacrificing that for “city life” is worth it.
  • It’s my home with all of my friends. So is Houston, and so is here to an extent, but staying in Waco after I graduated from Baylor ended up being a wonderful decision. Not only have I grown to love our weird little large town/small city, I made my first non-school friends there. It’s so hard once you graduate college to figure out how you’re supposed to make non-school friends, and once that happens, it really is a gift. I hated that I found my friends six months before getting married and moving away to a different town. Everything had finally felt right and then I had to leave it all behind. As I told Jason the other day, it’s going to be incredibly exciting to finally combine my Waco life and our married life, which felt so drastically different because of our isolation here. In a way, it feels like I’m getting my full life back by going back. I’m not saying that our life here hasn’t been fulfilling, more that it will be much fuller in Waco.
  • I feel needed there. Here, I’m Jason’s wife, which hey, is great. But in Waco, I actually really feel like I fulfill some sort of purpose. I love when my Waco family needs me for things. I love when my boss asks if I can work extra events because he knows I’m reliable. I loved working shipment at Old Navy, the shift that nobody really wants to do because of the time of day and is incredibly hard to create a reliable crew for. It’s been difficult on me knowing that I could be fulfilling needs somewhere else while I’m sitting here in our apartment miles away wondering how I’m gonna waste fill my time that day.
  • No more duty calls! As a hall director, Jason is responsible for an entire apartment complex. A few times a semester, he also has to have the duty phone for a week. The duty phone gets called anytime there’s a situation in a residence hall on campus that can’t be resolved by the front desk or the RA on staff. This can be anything from “I’ve lost my ID and need a temporary replacement” to “my toilet is flooding my room help” to “we think there’s underage alcohol in this room.” He HAS to answer the call, even if it comes at 4 am, and deal with the situation immediately. It’s led to some long, weird hours, and worst of all, there have been times where he’s been sick at the same time. We’re both incredibly excited at saying goodbye to that aspect of hall director life.

I’m sure I could just endlessly list how excited I am, but eventually I’d just start repeating myself and babbling about how much I love it. Of course, there are some downsides – mostly that we won’t be saving money on housing/electricity/cable and how we have made some really great friends here as well – but I’ve known all along that we really needed this. The next month is going to be incredibly stressful, with trying to find a place to move, packing our entire apartment up, figuring out yet again how to move our cat without him hyperventilating, and in between taking two weekend trips to New Orleans for my brother-in-laws graduation and a surprise 1 Year Anniversary trip to I-don’t-know-where! It’ll be crazy, but I really don’t mind, because AFTER THAT I’LL BE HOME! 🙂

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