Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Book of Pittsburgh 1:1-6

Wyoming? Wynot?

Whereas cuticles are criminally abused, the car is furious packed and repacked, and coffee mugs are topped, we hereby move to Pittsburgh.  

Tonight we are stopped in Cheyenne, because we see absolutely no sense in speeding across the country.  That means that a short 7 hours got us from our doorstep in Utah to the I-80 Holiday Inn* in lower Wyoming.  It’s not far, but everything feels different.

The newness of the move kicked in when we hit the 215 going east out of South Salt Lake.  This interchange is only 10 minutes from where we lived for the last 3 years, but it’s a direction I rarely take.  That less familiar view brought into focus some more expansive vistas: five-plus years of dense urban neighborhoods, late-night deadlines, and no lack of lake effect.  (To my Salt Lake friends, for most Americans the term “lake effect” does not mean the stench of brine shrimp blowing into the valley.  It’s a cold, hard dump of snow and ice launched from any number of Great Lakes—or so I have heard.)  I have mixed thoughts on all of this, but my feelings are fairly clear.  There is a core of confidence covered in a thin layer of anxiety.  Wavering through this emotional sphere is an electromagnetic field of what the Brazilians call saudade.

I will miss my mother’s good cheer, my sister’s passion, my brother’s unique mixture of stoicism and compassion.  My nieces and nephews will be near my thoughts, and missed most of all.  I think about little Alejandra and her easy way of cuddling with uncle Toy-toy, or Wyatt and his precocious knock-knock jokes.  I will miss talking Java with my dad, and having birthdays with his wife and kids.  Not least of all, there are scores of baristas dotting the Wasatch Front who have set a high standard for my expectations of service workers in Pennsylvania.  (Yes, as a whole, these SLC punks out-perform the baristas of Portland.—if only I could have had as good a cup of coffee.)

To ease the transition, we have a number of nesting plans.  Vivian has already designed about 13 rooms worth of decorative themes.  Friday nights will be Board Game Night for anyone interested in showing up.  We have encouraged all of our loved ones to get on Skype, and we’re planning a video blog of our new life…or at least the silliest aspects of it which we can discover or invent.  These will mostly be for the children and the easily amused, you see.

My final thoughts tonight are for all of you that I did not spend enough time with while I was in Salt Lake, or during my semi-regular trips to Portland.  I have not forgotten a single one of my friends and loved ones, but that doesn’t mean I always called you when I could have.  My apologies for this.  My only excuse is that I was able to devote enough time to my school work that I have now been invited to work in one of the most exciting departments of one of the most innovative universities in all the world.  It was a rough trade, but one of the main advantages of a PhD from Carnegie Mellon is going to be regular travel to the cities which my favorite people inhabit, wherever in the world you might be.