As we get ready to pack it up and move to North Carolina, I can’t help but reflect on all of the years that I’ve lived in Tallahassee. I was 17 when I moved up here and I’m currently headed towards my 31st birthday. It feels like I’ve lived so many different lives over the last 13 years. Join me on a trip down memory lane, won’t you?
I vividly remember the day I moved into my freshman dorm. Standing outside of Kellum Hall, I was so green and unsure of everything. I was living in a strange town and I had a long-distance boyfriend who I missed like crazy. In those first timid months, my family became my sorority sisters and the Delta Zeta house was my second home. As I became comfortable with college life, everything picked up speed. From the football games to the parties to the insane crazy fun of spring weekends to study abroad in Paris, my undergraduate experience was everything I could have hoped for. My memory of those undergrad years is like being in a dark club with strobe lights casting reflections on all of the surfaces. Everything was so bright and chaotic, but I definitely mastered the art of living in the moment. Oh yeah, and I somehow managed to get an education at the same time.
I always knew that there was a good chance that I would go to graduate school since I liked learning and I was a natural student. Plus, it delayed having to get a real job. Fortunately, Florida State had an excellent criminology program and they accepted me so I entered phase II of Tallahassee living.
I moved into an apartment and then into a different one. My long-distance boyfriend and I broke up (much to the relief of my parents) and I began to seriously explore the different aspects of criminology that interested me. I began working with violent male offenders in two different prisons and I volunteered at the local police department answering non-emergency calls and filing police reports. Most of my undergrad friends graduated and moved away so I phased in a new set of friends from grad school. My Masters degree went by in a flash (just under two years) and I figured that since I was already there, I might as well go ahead and get a Ph.D.
During this time, otherwise known as phase III, the Irishman and I began dating and we both knew that it was pretty serious right off the bat. He had been my best friend since high school and we knew each other about as well as you can know anyone. Also around this time, I started working at my first real job, the death penalty commission, and I was into the hardcore part of my Ph.D. Little did I know that the hardcore part lasted about 5 years. My memory of this phase involves a lot of coffee and loooooong hours of studying in coffee shops, libraries, bookstores and at home. This was also when I started running. In retrospect, I now know that I was trying to exhaust myself so that I could turn my brain off.
We got married and bought a house the same semester that I sat for my Ph.D. comprehensive exams. I have little to no recollection of that entire semester, but I survived it and plowed on with my dissertation. I also got a full-time job at a law enforcement agency and started teaching classes at the university. In theory, I was officially a full-fledged adult, but I didn’t remotely feel like it. The first couple years of our marriage were crazy. I was out of the house from 6am-7pm six days a week and I was quickly approaching burn out. Fortunately, I was also quickly approaching the end of my degree, which was eagerly anticipated by both of us.
And then on February 26, 2006, I got a positive pregnancy test. And the world shifted. I remember looking in the mirror that morning and seeing the shock on my own face. I remember thinking, “I’m going to be a mother” and truly in that moment, nothing else mattered. Everything became secondary to protecting the little person growing inside of me. The next nine months were wonderful. I had a near flawless pregnancy and I loved almost every minute of it. I still sometimes dream that Parker is still moving inside of my belly and my heart just flops over in my chest.
He was born November 12th and then it was back to reality. I was still working on my dissertation (in fact, I only took off two weeks after his birth), and I began working full-time from home for the law enforcement agency. Oh yeah, and Parker was home with me. I don’t know how I did it and quite frankly, I’ve blocked a lot of the chaos out of my brain, but I did do it and I got to stay home with him for 16 wonderful months.
The last and most recent phase involves Parker being in school, me working in academia and us adjusting to life with a toddler. Most of the time, it’s total craziness, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Parker is the light of my life and he brings so much laughter and happiness into this house. I’ve also found a nice balance between being “mom” and being my own person. I’ve learned to be selfish about getting what I need because a happier Cyn is a better mom.
As I drive through town every day, I see evidence of every single aspect of my life in Tallahassee – some memories that I’d rather forget and some memories that I treasure. It’s been a crazy ride, but I think I’m ready to put Tallahassee behind me. I did all of the growing that I needed to do here and now it’s time for a change. For myself, for Parker and for our little family. So let’s bring on the new memories, for better and for worse.