It wasn't without its requirements. Their visit did require a modicum of prep work. The house needed a certain amount of rearrangement and cleaning. Both the spousal unit and I had a decent volume of our stuff in piles. The carpet was in need of a good vacuuming--the severe move-all-the-furniture variety. I also had to go and purchase some Honey Nut Cheerios, as we only had the unadulterated variety...and our house guests had certain...needs.
Their departure also showed the needs that had to be abandoned for the duration of their visit. Amongst the things that went by the wayside included workouts, salads, home-cooked meals, sobriety, bathroom visits with the door open...but these can all be set aside for a week. Friends are always worth it.
I do really love it when friends come to visit, and I try to go out of my way to get everything ready. It's one of the sincerely depressing things about academics is that you tend to lose friends on a normal basis. Some go crazy and socially disappear, but most just move away. I try to get people together at conferences, but conferences involve travel costs, lodging costs, registration costs, and vacation costs...besides the pesky little requirement of having to write another paper. Until all my friends have tenured jobs, this just isn't the perfect solution.
Luckily enough, my comrades dr. alex and thmarn are strange enough to actually want to come back to Bowling Green for their spring break. Somehow, my humble city beat out Palm Beach, Cancun, Key West, Tahiti, Stockholm, Lichtenstein, Bellingshausen Station, and many other spring break hot spots...so we got house guests!
It was one fun week. We got to do Howards Club H on multiple occasions, did the road trip thing, endured the "heteros gone wild" catcalls, ate out every single night (which, when I finally got back to my workouts, led me to pass out upon discovering my level of weight gain), danced with my spousal unit in a bar and accidentally dropped her on the cold floor, watched a fairly amusing movie and some horrific television. Generally, we had a blast.
However, I noticed a few things. First, we got to hang out with 80% of the people I know in Bowling Green. What was interesting about this was that most of them, I only get to see most of them every few weeks. This just proves I'm one of the least successful people I know at surrounding myself with a large posse. This always leads me to the quantity versus quality argument.
Second, we got to see some of our long distance friends, a few from Michigan and one from Cleveland (on top of our two visitors), so there was a little bit of a "high school reunion" feel to the evenings...except I really missed and wanted to see everyone there. It was amazing how easily we fell back into our old conversations. It was also sad when we had to leave them.
Finally, whenever we were being social, I noticed that we had a "it shall not be named" topic of conversation constantly floating around the periphery of our conversations. What was the common denominator?
Uncertainty. Very few of us know what we'll be doing next year...I'm one of the lucky few. Most others do not. Job announcements are down. Those that do get posted are just as likely to lose funding as move to the hiring stages. Existing jobs won't necessarily continue.
We all feel it. It's the human cost of the economy. It's no longer safe being a thinker, a teacher. And while I'm relatively stable for the next year or two, I do worry. The pressure of being an academic has always been dealing with an amount of uncertainty. However, now I also have to take on that of my friends.
I don't have many friends, but the ones I do have are magnificent. They are dealing with massive uncertainty. That uncertainty will, most likely, push them even further away.
The best I can do is dwell on the joys of our meetings...thankfully, we have enough good times to almost make up for the departures.