Moving 600 Miles Closer To Comerica Park

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

I won’t bury the lede because that’s bad journalism and it’s also probably the only way to convince you to read this entire, mostly slightly self-indulgent piece: I’m coming home.

Two and a half years ago, five days after we got married, my wife and I packed our entire lives into a 14-foot U-Haul and set out on what I assumed would be the grandest, newest, and biggest adventure of our lives. It wasn’t necessarily going to be the most important few years we’d ever have, but it was sure to be the biggest change we were ever going to make. We graduated from college, got married, and moved hundreds of miles from home all in the span of 12 days. We were both starting graduate school at UNC (a one year master’s for Becky, a five year PhD for me). It was meticulously planned. We’re planners. Our life had a path and this was the first step.

Neither of us particularly wanted to be in North Carolina instead of being in Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids or Toledo, but Chapel Hill was the stepping stone for the life we sought and we were both excited to be together and on our own after 22 years of being neither.

We spent the summer of 2012 adjusting to our new surroundings and confronting anxieties, new and old, built into our DNA. We enjoyed married life a great deal, but we both dreamed of a time in our lives when we would be more settled. Permanent. We often find ourselves looking forward because we’re goal driven but sometimes that allows us to miss the present. Picture the most cliche house in the most cliche suburb with 2.3 kids. We both want that quiet, boring life and we’d prefer it sooner rather than later.

So Becky had to get through one year of school, then she would get a job making real money, and our lives could begin to settle. We could buy some nicer stuff, take weekend getaways, etc. We were looking forward.

During that first year, the Tigers went to the World Series and I started this site to feel more connected to the team and friends I had left behind. It was therapeutic as I ran into frustrations in other aspects of life. (Freaking Pablo Sandoval though, right?)

In the summer of 2013, when the Tigers pitching staff was incredible, Becky graduated and found a job doing something very meaningful (she’s a social worker) and instead of living a Puritanical existence, we had extra funds to enjoy our very simple tastes. Step One completed. But, we wanted to get a dog, I was tiring of classes, and we hadn’t seen the Tigers live in more than  year. We were looking ahead to the next step.

That December, in the aftermath of the Fister trade, we decided we were prepared financially and free-time-wise to adopt a dog. We got Watson on the day before New Year’s Eve 2013.

As wonderful as he was (and still is), he required a great deal of attention at first. I was working on my master’s thesis, carrying a heavier load training him, and we were still looking forward. Things will be better when baseball starts again and after I defend my thesis, we said. And they were and they weren’t. There were new frustrations with my department and Becky’s job was starting to weigh on her emotionally (social workers are rockstars). Just as we were expecting to feel established, little things would bump us from the path. We needed to replace a car. Watson decided to change his walk schedule without consulting us. MLB.TV would have an off night.

The three of us were happy as a unit, but our circumstances, while far from tragic, were less than ideal. We were looking forward. Three more years until the promise of something really and truly new. At least three more years until real life. That seemed like forever and we became very aware of the fact that we were always living in the future and rarely enjoying the present the way we should.

So we looked forward and decided to make a list of things we wanted to do in the next three years, before the big change. The list wasn’t very long and some of it was forced. Basically, we wanted to get on with the main event. The part of our lives where we put down roots. We’ve had our eyes on that prize forever and the part between now and then was just filler.

So there came a moment, after the Tigers had been manhandled by the O’s, when I was lying on the floor of our apartment with Watson while Becky was standing in the kitchen when I said, “I just don’t want to do this anymore.”

Her response, or at least the way I’ll remember it, was simple but life changing. “So let’s do something else.”

At first the prospect was scary because the Weinbergs do not divert from The Plan. You make a plan and then you execute it. But we talked for two straight days and made the decision that it was time to make a new plan. One that didn’t include three more years hundreds of miles from our friends, family, and favorite baseball team. At the time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up on being a college professor, but I knew that I had never been less motivated to live the academic life.

There are things we both want in life and the road we were taking might have gotten us there eventually, but it wasn’t the most effective way to arrive. So I started looking for jobs in Michigan, at first just to see what might be out there and eventually because it started to make sense to take the leap. Last week, I accepted a position as a Research Analyst with the Michigan Legislature. It isn’t what I thought I’d be doing four years ago, but I’m starting to think we should only plan so far in advance.

So the Weinbergs are coming home and the 2015 season will be viewed in close proximity. I don’t know exactly how this is going to change my life or my writing, but for now, I plan to keep my online presence the same.

I don’t think I’d have started New English D or adopted Watson or done any of the great things I’ve done during the last couple of years without moving to North Carolina and I don’t regret it for a minute. Some really important things happened in my life because we made the journey, but it’s time for the journey to end and another one to begin.

Dave Clark is waving us home. Hopefully we’ll see you at the park this season.

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3 responses

  1. KalineCountry Ron | Reply

    Neil,
    Hope everything works out for you and your wife back in Michigan.
    Look forward to more great Tigers news from your New English D Tigers Blog.

  2. Dear Mr. Weinberg–
    A really nice post, and best of luck to you and your family! I hope you keep writing, because your site is the best (and it gets you on TV once in a while!). Your site will also get you major respect in the Legislature (“Oh, you’re *that* guy…!”), and make it easy to talk to people. And who knows, maybe you’ll end up getting a job like Mr. James working for the Red Sox and Rick Porcello–oh, I mean the Tigers and J.V.–someday!
    T.K.

    1. Oh–here’s a dog moving tip that might help–immediately when you get to your new home, go for a long walk. Then, when you get home, feed Watson a nice meal. (“New place=walk=food=yeah!”)

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