November 17

I’m in reflection mode again today.

It was a year ago today that I hopped on a plane for Missouri for a whirlwind tour of The ‘Ville and flew back to Wisconsin that night.

I had received the call for the interview a couple weeks earlier, from an administrative assistant who explained to me the interview had to be Nov. 17, a Tuesday. No other days would work.

Fortunately, I had one vacation day left for the year. The problem I faced, though, was getting the day off approved. My employer had a policy that vacation days had to be requested at least three weeks in advance. So I tried trading for a day off with a couple co-workers. When that didn‘t work, my only hope was to tell my editor “something came up” and hope he agreed to give me the day off. Luckily, he did.

No one at my workplace knew why I needed the day off or where I was heading except for a close friend, my partner in crime on the 5 a.m. shift. Outside of work, only Kates, our parents and a couple more close friends were aware of my travel plans.

On interview day, I awoke at like 4 a.m., which wasn’t any different from the woeful 5 a.m. shift I was working during that era. I dressed in my business suit and made the early morning trek to General Mitchell Airport. Where I people watched. Daydreamed. And shot this photo of the sunrise

I arrived in Kansas City during the late morning hours, picked up a rental car and headed to The ‘Ville, where it was colder that day than it was in K-Town. The ‘Ville also was getting its first of many, many snowfalls last winter. Compare that to today’s weather: sunny, clear and mild.

I grabbed a quick lunch at a Taco Bell and then took a drive to explore the town. Kates also had scouted the real estate online and gave me a list of addresses she wanted me to review. One of those houses turned out to be the first one we toured when our house hunts officially began last spring. Another, now known as No. 29, was a house we’re still pining over but are weary of its location.

Then at around 1:30 in the afternoon, I was heading to campus and finding my way back into the Administration Building. Up the grand staircase and toward the east wing. To the university relations office. Where I got reacquainted with Gina, who I’d soon be referring to as the office glue and who offered me unbelievable support and assistance from that day on.

Around 2 p.m. I was sitting around the conference room table with Gina and the rest of the players who within a couple months would become my trusted coworkers and friends. I could tell that day they would be an awesome team to work with.

Another interview followed with a group of professors and administrators. Looking back and thinking about the people around that table, just like the people who were in that first interview, it’s amazing to think about the roles each of them have played in my first year.

When the interview process finished around 4, I began my walk out of the Administration Building. I'll never forget walking down the grand staircase, seeing the students bustling through the main corridor and thinking, This is where I want to be! 

Soon I was driving back to Kansas City to catch my flight back to Milwaukee. I caught it, and after a busy, mentally-draining day, arrived home shortly after 10 p.m. I’ll never forget the image of coming through our door to find Kates sitting on the couch, waiting for me, grading papers and anxious to hear about my day. I was confused and unsure at that point.

The next morning, Rob Thomas sang to me when I started up my car.

I was back at work at 5 a.m. the next morning.

A week later, I was offered the job. A week after that I accepted it. And the adventure began.

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