Choosing our home

Nov 22, 2007

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I’m at my in-laws home in Cleveland, where I was in 2000 for the turkey meal on my first day of blogging.

Within months of that first post, Erin and I had decided to move south to pursue graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We’ve earned masters degrees, welcomed Malia to the world, met new friends and made a home in Durham.

With Erin’s law school almost finished, it was time to make a decision — do we stay or do we return to Cleveland?

One night last week, with the girls in bed, we flopped onto the sofa with our laptops and magazines, but we happened upon The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on PBS, and for the next two hours Erin and my mother and I laughed and laughed and laughed as Billy Crystal was honored for his hilarious career.

“That was a pleasant surprise,” said Erin when the award ceremony was finished.

After all that guffawing, I felt great. After four weeks of fighting a cold and cough and the stress of a new job, I was finally feeling strong.

At work, I had hired two talented writers to work on my team: Kelly Malcom is a Duke grad and science writer, and Mark Schreiner I’ve known since we were editors together on The Carroll News at John Carroll University. Their presence is already a huge relief, and I’m looking forward to working with them.

Over the past six months, Erin and I had spent countless hours discussing our career options and living possibilities — go or stay? was the subtext of each night’s talk as we debated whether to go back to Cleveland, where Erin had a job offer with a law firm and I had plans for a writing project and where we have family and a network of friends, or to stay in North Carolina, where we have another network of friends and colleagues and bloggers, and a home we love.

Earlier this year, with funding questions at my previous job, I started looking for other work, and the Duke Medicine opportunity came knocking, with an offer to lead an online communications effort like I’ve been talking up for the last few years. Soon after I started at Duke, though, Erin got her Cleveland offer.

What to do? Our evening discussions got more difficult, intense, exhausting. We both wanted the best opportunity for the other, and the best setting for our daughters. Each night of our talks, as the answer seemed harder to come by, I felt ever deeper in love with Erin and committed to our life together. Early on, I told her I was confident she could find a good job wherever she looked.

In the end, we decided Erin would decline the Cleveland job, I’d stay in my Duke job, and we’d go with the flow. And, sure enough, within two weeks Erin had another great offer from a law firm – in Raleigh. This she accepted.

And so North Carolina will remain home.

But what to do about Erin’s childhood dream of living in Africa? We compromised on this: Erin’s going to Zanzibar next month for a law class and a safari.

Anton Zuiker

© 2000 Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC