Leaving Nebraska

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I have as much home-state pride as the next girl.  I don't know that it's so different from every other place in the way all of those "You know you're from Nebraska if . . . " articles seem to suggest.  Whenever I read those, by the time I get to the end, I know the author is struggling because she ran out of unique things to say after hitting the fifth or sixth item on the list.  I don't live in Nebraska anymore, but I don't think there will ever be a time in my life where I hate having to say that I don't live in Nebraska anymore.

It's not that I am urging my husband to move back home.  He had a fabulous job opportunity in Houston and he loves his job here.  I also love that he is being treated for leukemia at one of the best hospitals in the country.  My extended family is here and I know that my folks are planning to leave the cold and windy plains when it's time for them to retire.  Sometimes I marvel at the city as I drive my car into downtown Houston.  It amazes me that my coworkers can pick a new place to try for happy hour every month and it's always great and always within walking distance of work.  There is a meetup group that does everything.  It isn't that I'm unhappy here in Houston or that I don't think this move, and my husband finding a job he loves, was in our best interests.

I just miss Nebraska.

Lanny Fuller wrote on a blog entry going viral that "Out here, people aren't afraid of feeling small."  As an attorney, this may be what I miss most about home.

When I graduated from Duke Law School and returned home to Nebraska, it felt like I could finally breathe again.  No, I'm not one of those people who hated every minute of law school, I loved it, but I did feel guilty every time I took a shower that was a little bit too long because I knew I could have been using that extra time to study.  Back in Nebraska, I took a comparatively low-paying job as a government-attorney.  And I did good work, but I also left the office in time to make dinner and I worked from the hospital sometimes while my husband was receiving chemotherapy.

In Nebraska, nobody wanted to hear about my resume, they wanted to hear about my family.  Nobody pressured me about my career goals, they wanted to know if I was happy, if my life felt balanced, which colors I was considering for my wedding.  They knew I would figure everything out in time, or if I continued to work for the government my entire life, that would be wonderful because it was challenging, important work and being satisfied with the work you do is more important than being rich or well-known.  You can be rich in so many ways.  I knew about my boss's kids' soccer tournaments and my co-worker's exercise routines.  As I worked steady hours, but wasn't plotting toward some grandiose future, I spent time in the hospital with my husband as we fought cancer and nobody judged me for spending all of my after-hours time in that way.

We are programmed to mimic our peers to some extent.  The influence, at least for me, cannot be escaped entirely.  In Nebraska, everyone approved of my steady job and family focus and I split my efforts between improving my legal skills and giving to my family.  I did not spend my evenings networking.  And I never felt inadequate.

The big city in Texas is not the same.  I moved into a similar job in Houston, but people wonder when I'm going to finally be ready to transition to a job at a law firm.  And then I start wondering and questioning.  I wonder if my small life is enough.  Am I wasting my brains?  My education?  The doubt creeps in here in a way it never did back home.  Out there, people aren't afraid of being small.  It's harder here.

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