Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Decision '16

It's here.

The journey that started in 2008 way back in Virginia will be coming to an end. Grad school conquered, post-doc finished in another few months - and what remains is the decision.

Where will we call home for the long haul?

Becoming a tenure-track professor is no easy thing. Years of research, classes, conferences. Networking, hoping, publishing, dreaming, dozens of job applications and, gratefully, many interviews. Traveling across the country to see campuses and meet departments and see cities.

Hours of pouring over the racial dot map, of looking at school demographics and neighborhoods.

Knowing that this decision is harder because of the reality of being a multi-racial family. Knowing that when we said yes to that characterization, we were saying yes to more than just loving our sons because, my friends, love is not enough. We were saying that we knew it would all matter. All the schools, churches, neighborhoods, friends...the "who" involved in those places would matter. The mirrors in their lives would matter. The representation in their books and movies and music. In their lives. They cannot be the only black people they know.

So some might just look at the job, the salary, the benefits, the "can we afford to live there" question that comes with some of these places.

We have the added privilege of asking "can ALL our sons thrive here?" Is this a place of overt or covert racism? Are the schools set up to fail our black sons? Are there churches where they will see people of color in leadership positions? Or will they always be "other"?

So while maybe some people would be kept up at night wondering about test scores or income taxes, I have to wonder if the school is the type of place where my son could have the police called on him in kindergarten. Or whether the town will offer one long string of micro-aggressions all the livelong day in his direction. Or whether there is a barbershop that will know how to do their hair. Or a store that will even sell non-white dolls. (Yes, my toddler boy loves his dolls.)

I would love to say that God is making this all clear but the truth is, this may be the hardest decision we've ever had to make. Possibly because of the feeling of finality. Most people start their tenure-track position with the intent of retiring there. This is not a 5 year job, it's a 30 years or more position.

This is where we will do life. For the long haul.

And this decision has to be made. For someone like me, a thinker who hates the uncertain, this is where it gets too hard. No amount of spreadsheets and powerpoint presentations can fully encompass what we need to know to make this choice. There is going to have to be some risk, some intuition, some hope.

I am so not good at those things, especially after several years worth of transitions and other huge decisions. That part of my brain is refusing to function.

I know I often tie up my posts with some deep realization I've had, some way that God has helped me to see something right and good and helpful. Today is not one of those days.

Today, I am unresolved. Grateful beyond words that we HAVE choices that are good, but unresolved, nonetheless.

I know once the decision is made and we move and look back, that things will have fallen into place. I know God goes before us and with us in this. My head does know that.

In the meantime, though, I could use a decision-making miracle. An infusion of life into that exhausted area of my brain. Clarity. Hope. Risk.

And, honestly, I could use it now.

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