For the past couple of years, Jared and I have often discussed how awesome it would be to live in Utah again. We love the mountains and the skiing and just the insane amount of fun outdoor recreation. And of course, we would love to live near family (his sister and parents are there). Well, as we were boarding the airplane to fly to Utah for a visit in September, Jared got an email about a possible job at BYU. It sounded amazing. Living in Utah, working at the greatest university on earth (no bias here), free tuition for our kids? Oh yeah. But even as he started to work on applications, we both felt hesitant. We didn't know why, but now that a possible opportunity was here, it didn't feel right.
A month or two later, we got another surprise. Jared was approached by a colleague in his company from a different department and basically recruited for a new position at headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. They seemed to really want him, so we thought, why not? Let's apply for this one, too. Almost immediately, he was offered the job and expected to respond soon. If he accepted the job, it would definitely be closing the door on the possible BYU opportunity, which hadn't even closed applications yet. But for some reason it seemed like the right thing to do, or at least...a good thing to do.
And so, here we are, in our 4th home in 4 years. And while I think I will always long for the mountains of Utah or the pine trees (and warmth!) of North Carolina, or the BBQ and Bluebell (and family!) in Texas, Iowa is starting to feel a teeny tiny (tiny) bit like home. But let it be known that I am only able to say this because we've had a bit of reprieve this week from the truly awful winter we've had (can't forget that record-setting -55 degree windchill in January). Ask me in the dead of winter what I think of Iowa, and I will probably be harsh.
In the 2.5 years we've lived in the midwest, I've kind of scoffed when I've heard people talk about "midwest hospitality" or how great the people are here. Maybe we have just lived in the wrong neighborhoods before, but I haven't felt particularly welcomed. (Or perhaps I'm being a little unfair by comparing midwesterners to southerners - that charming southern accent makes any exchange seem friendlier.) But this past week, I have met quite a handful of friendly neighbors and church members and I am feeling excited to be living here. We had a beautiful, warm day yesterday and our street was suddenly full of kids, weaving in and out of each others driveways, garages, and backyards. Libby took off on her little red bike, "I'm going to go play with my friends!" and followed them around for hours. The parents congregated in one of the driveways and told me the names, occupations and family histories of everyone on the block. It's apparently a pretty friendly place after all.