When my children were looking at colleges, my husband and I encouraged them to venture outside their comfort zones. We wanted them to embrace new experiences, explore unfamiliar places, and meet people with different backgrounds.
We wanted them to do what was scary and uncomfortable, as we figured those experiences would benefit them throughout their lives.
Our oldest was somewhat reluctant to tackle this. She had her heart set on attending an instate school to play volleyball, but when that didn’t pan out, she found herself 1,000 miles away from home at Binghamton University in New York.
(This was the day we dropped her off. Sunglasses were on for a good reason. And it had nothing to do with the sun.)
She graduated four years later having made three of the best friends she could have ever asked for. After spending a year back home, she knew Neenah was not the place to pursue her dreams. So quite bravely, she quit her job, and headed off to Rhode Island. It wasn’t easy, but she is now happily working in Boston.
Our son opted for Macalester College, a tiny liberal arts school in the heart of St. Paul. Students hail from all 50 states and 90 different countries.
He graduated with a degree AND a girlfriend…and is now furthering his education at a school in Boston.
Our youngest also graduated from Binghamton. While she was grateful for the experience, she discovered she was a midwestern girl at heart. She returned home to attend grad school. She is enjoying school, coaching volleyball, and has reconnected with her high school Homecoming date.
This is when she told us she was moving back home.
So our kids have experienced a lot. They have been brave and ventured out of their comfort zones.
But my husband and me?
Well, we’ve always lived here.
(Disclaimer: Reed actually moved to Neenah when he was 2.)
I was born in the hospital where my mom worked. Each of our three children were born here.
I was baptized in this church. My husband and I were confirmed here. It’s where we were married. It’s where each of our three children were baptized.
This was my church for 34 years. My husband’s for 39.
Switching to our current church 17 years ago was not a decision we made lightly.
My husband, my children and I are all Neenah High School alumni.
This is the Ron Einerson Field House where many moons ago, I performed for basketball games. (Soooo sorry I don’t have a picture to share.) It’s where my husband played his trumpet in Pep Band. It’s where all three of my children played volleyball and where my son played basketball.
Back in my day, the high school was composed of two buildings separated by a parking lot. My children reaped the benefits of the addition of “The Link”, which connected the buildings, eliminating the fun of crossing the parking lot in the cold, snowy winter months.
The parking lot was also where my husband impressed a crowd of peers by ‘lighting up’ the tires of his ’67 Mustang and creating a cloud of smoke that could be seen for miles. Or at least as far as the window where Miss Kessler was watching. Through the haze she could see his license plate. (Reed doesn’t want me to share the rest of the story.)
Neenah High School is also where I have returned each school year for the past 17 years to attend teacher inservice .
And while I have always lived here, I have lived in many houses—most of them built by my dad.
This is the house I have lived in for the past 13 years. The longest I have ever lived in a house.
I’ve lived here so long, I know how to navigate the stairs in the middle of the night. 5 steps. Landing. 7 steps. Landing. 3 steps. Slippery wood floor.
about a year ago, my husband was contacted by a long time customer of his. He wanted Reed to know he would be retiring soon, and encouraged him to consider his position.
Which he did…but…
the job was in Georgia.
we have always lived here.
Over the winter, we didn’t give it much thought. But this past spring, he called and asked Reed to submit his resume.
Encouraged by our kids, we figured why not.
In early June, after progressing through a series of interviews, we flew down to Georgia for an ‘in person’ interview. (Reed even got a new pair of shoes for this interview. I actually took the picture for our youngest, as she was the one who picked out the shoes and wanted to see the complete look.)
And then we waited.
And while we waited, we realized how perfect this opportunity was for both of us. And suddenly we became aware that we would be disappointed if it didn’t work out.
So when Reed was offered the job in late June, we knew, without a doubt, it was meant to be.
Next Friday, Reed will retire from Gulfstream with over 34 years of service.
And the following week, we will begin our next adventure, as Reed begins his new position at Aflac in Columbus, Georgia.
We are finally taking the advice we gave our children so many years ago.