I am nothing if not a creature of habit. Once again, it has become clear that I tend to disappear from the blogosphere when I get caught up in a vortex of endless to-dos in the lab, or am lost in single-minded navel gazing. As someone who processes best by talking things out (another well worn habit), this propensity to spontaneously hibernate surprises me, but I have not quite gotten the hang of contemplating out loud on a public blog (although I do have moments of inspiration). Plus, in most cases, whining about bureaucracy does not make for a narrative that will keep you all on the edges of your collective seats…
My most recent month (!!)-long hiatus has not appeared to be all that different from that cycle on its surface – lots of late nights in the lab and long conversations with friends. Yet, this time there more was at stake than merely driving myself (and those around me) to distraction. For a variety of reasons it had come time for me to define and develop my next steps – beyond my current position and beyond Paris.
I have no idea how to even begin to explain what these four years in Paris have meant to me – how much I have grown, both personally and professionally. In fact, I strongly suspect that I utterly underestimate the extent of its impact on the person I am today. Since arriving here I have come to understand my strengths and weaknesses, formed a clear image of the person (and scientist) I would like to become and have learned to love myself no matter the differences between those two. These reasons alone are priceless, but they are nowhere near comprehensive – the places I have traveled, the food I have eaten and the friends I have come to love as family will forever shape the way I see the world in the years ahead of me; simply put, it has been life-changing.
However, even the most formative experiences come to an end. I have learned the science that I came here to learn (and have almost finished the projects that I came here to do). I have explored the city, country, continent and beyond. As the summer rushes forward, I realize that it has been a long time since I have been in a place that I could call home, at least ‘home’ in the true sense of what that word means to me: comfort, love, belonging and family. I first glimpsed what it meant to be on my own in Boston during graduate school, and I have found happiness, solace and comfort in that space in Paris but, to this day, California is still home. So, after 11 years, it is to San Diego that I am returning.
I worry a bit about returning to a place that held meaning for me in the past. I spent 4 years in San Diego, going to UCSD as an undergraduate – and it is to UCSD I return, as a post-doctoral researcher. However, in those years my family has expanded – we are welcoming two new additions (a niece and a nephew) this fall. Several close friends remain in the area, and they have been able to successfully redefine what the city means to them beyond the college years, and I am looking forward to undertaking that challenge myself. And, through a series of events that feel as if they were torn from the pages of a summer beach read, I have met someone incredibly special. He knows a completely different San Diego than I ever did, and I am so excited to explore the city together.
I have given my notice (October 31) and bought my one-way ticket (November 5). I have a few more months to soak up Paris, finish my work in the lab, spend time with my friends and get ready for the next big thing. I am very sorry for recent silence, but I am sure everything that is about to happen will be worth the wait.
(For those of you wondering – yes, I have already registered a San Diego blog address… now that I’ve caught the blogging bug, I do planning on continuing)