Born and raised in New England, I spent my earliest years in what I guess you could call “main street” rural New Hampshire. My neighbors were literally a stones throw away, our properties right up against each other. My siblings (2 older brothers, one younger sister) and I thrived many a day, running amongst these properties playing hide and seek, inventing anything and everything, trying to find our way without getting in too much trouble. My Dad worked at the local paper company and it treated him well. So well in fact, he decided to strike out on his own and start his own paper mill.
So we packed up and moved to northern Vermont. I was 10, or maybe 12…
Once north, I was enrolled in Blue Mountain Union School. Total student body? Less than a thousand, K through 12…. My graduating class was less than 50 students.
So to say it was a “small town” would be a slight understatement.
It was definitely different from what I had been used to, but in a lot of ways it was liberating. I learned about close knit communities and the friends I made in that time would definitely be considered friends now. My teachers influenced and supported me in ways that I doubt I would’ve achieved in a more choked environment, and I can honestly say that much of who I am today owes a good deal to those who invested in me during that time.
I grew a lot there. I dabbled in organized sports (ended up loving soccer), was a requisite drama geek and ended up meeting my best friend and soul mate my junior year. After diplomas were handed out, most of us flew from the nest as quickly as we could, but a handful stuck around and made wonderful lives and families of their own.
Much like any small town I suppose.
College was a bit of a walking contradiction for me. I was a “clean” kid in high school, and graduated with a healthy tolerance for alcohol. I went to class to become a high school english teacher, and came out with a penchant for IT. The list goes on, but I wont bore you. Suffice it to say, college was nothing I anticipated, but was everything I needed (and dare say, wanted). I ended up marrying the same best friend from high school (the much more wonderful “Mel” half of tadandmel.com), we moved around a little in southern NH until the IT bubble burst in 2000/01 when we sought refuge in the RTP here in North Carolina.
The culture shock was exquisite! We were way out of our element here, but still had a doe-eyed faith in innate human kindness, and that got us reasonably far. Mel got a job quickly and I bounced around until I (and Melinda eventually) ended up at Duke and have been there ever since.
We dove in quickly, and bought a house in suburbia thinking we had “arrived”. But we quickly discovered that what society thinks you should do, is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Years went by and our ideas changed as did our goals. We’ve worked hard and though we’re far from where we want to be; we’re getting there.
Everyone asks some bastardized version of the “where do see yourself in 5 years” question, and honestly? I don’t know. I just know I’ll be living a life that’s different from what I am living now.
And when I look back at everything I’ve experienced so far, it appears I’ve been saying, and doing, that all my life.