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The Move to North Carolina

2007 was a year of transition for me. I was finishing up my master’s degree and looking for a job. Given that I was unlikely to find a job in rural Virginia, that also would mean a move.

I managed to find a job pretty early in the year, even though I wasn’t going to be able to start until September. I knew my master’s degree would come down to the wire. It turned out that the last day I could defend my thesis was September 7th. September 7th, a Friday, was also as far as my future employer was willing to push out my start date (because I needed to be in California for new hire training on the following Monday, September 10th).

This meant that I had most of the year in which to write and defend my thesis. It also ended up taking most of the year to do that.

Since I would not be staying for Fall semester, I needed to move my stuff out of my apartment at the end of the Summer. However, since I would be staying for a few weeks into Fall semester, I still needed a place to stay. My roommate agreed to let me sleep on his futon, living out of a bag in the living room while his new roommate took my old room.

Thus, in early August, my parents and I met in North Carolina in order to look at apartments. They had done some research for me beforehand, and we looked at three places. We chose what seemed like the best of the lot, signed a lease that day, and called it good. Drove the three hours back up to Blacksburg that same day.

A couple of weeks later, it was time to move. My new company was covering relocation expenses, so two movers came by to pack up my stuff. Everything went pretty smoothly, although at the time my desk was this 1970s-era behemoth that I had gotten from an office liquidation sale. You could tell that it came from an era when office furniture might need to serve double duty protecting its users from a nuclear blast, because it was built like the USS Missouri and weighed approximately as much.

I warned the movers ahead of time that the desk might pose a challenge. They just smiled and replied that they were professionals. After they had finally gotten the desk out into the truck, a process that involved all three of us and required rotating the desk through extra dimensions of spacetime that only exist theoretically, I heard them speaking much more respectfully of the effort required to move the beast.

After all my stuff was packed up, I drove down to North Carolina. They were going to meet me there to unpack my stuff, but for some reason this process would not happen until the next day. So I had to spend the night on the floor of my new apartment.

The next day my stuff got moved into my apartment without too much drama (I tipped the movers a little extra as thanks for putting up with the desk). I set up as much as I could, locked everything up, and then drove back to Virginia to finish preparing for my thesis defense, which was in about three weeks.

In two of those three weeks I basically lived at the lab, returning to the apartment which was no longer truly my home just to sleep. But by the last week, everything was pretty much set. My defense was scheduled for 7:30am the morning of the 6th (as I recall it had to be that early because one of my advisors was leaving for Atlanta right afterward. I was fine with the early hour, as it meant it would be much less likely that random people would show up and nitpick my work). I spent time hanging out with my friends and trying not to think about the major life changes I was in the midst of.

The defense went quite well. I shook hands with everybody, thanked my advisory team, and then got in my car and drove the route I had become quite familiar with by that time down to North Carolina.

After arriving, I stopped by a Panera Bread to get online since my Internet hadn’t been hooked up yet (this probably sounds a bit crazy in the far-flung future, but in 2007 it was far from a guarantee that any given restaurant would have Wi-Fi, at least in suburban North Carolina. Free wireless Internet was a selling point of Panera at that time. And the very first iPhone had just come out a couple of months earlier at the unimaginable price of $500 for the base model, so I was rocking a flip phone). I made sure I knew how to get to my new workplace (no GPS) and then drove back to my apartment to prepare for my first day of work the next day.

I think I’ve only ever had one move that wasn’t at least a little chaotic, stressful, and scary. This one wasn’t it.


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