The first time I came to Nashville was at the end of April, 2005. Rich had been awarded his PhD in Molecular Biology earlier in the year and now was the time for us to start looking for a place for Rich to do his post-doctoral fellowship. We may have been able to stay in Philadelphia. We wouldn't have had to move, his family would have been nearby, I would have still had my job... But we were planning to move back to Philadelphia some day and it's easier to get a lab if you've done your post-doc somewhere out of the city. We looked at places somewhat nearby - Baltimore, Boston, NYC - as well as some places a little further out -Minneapolis, Atlanta, Nashville. Two of the places that he sent his CV to asked for an interview. We went to Minnesota first and... it was ok, but I don't think it would have been the job Rich would have wanted.
When he got the call from the person in Nashville, Rich was pretty excited. Not only was the PI (primary investigator, the person in charge of the lab) someone Rich was familiar with from his own research, but his best friend was getting his doctorate at Vanderbilt as well. So Rich and I flew down to Nashville together - Rich's paid for by the PI and us paying for mine. We were put up in the Holiday Inn close to Vandy's campus, a nice enough hotel within walking distance of the campus. And across the street was Centennial Park, which also houses the Parthenon. It was nice having one of our first views of Nashville being such a famous place.
Rich had a day or two of interviews, during which I was able to keep myself amused. I walked around Vandy's campus, took in some of the businesses near by and just had a great time. Everyone that I met was incredibly friendly. And, best of all, I was able to have one of my favorite breakfast dishes, Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. They just don't make it in the northeast and I'd been wanting some so badly. I was also able to introduce Rich to sweet tea. I'm convinced that became one of the reasons he liked Nashville.
I did get to have breakfast with him and his PI the first morning, and dinner at a local micro-brewery, Boscos. We had dinner with the PI and one of the guys that was already in the lab. I got a chance to try some good beer and have some seared tuna. I knew that, if Rich got this job, Boscos would be a place I'd want to go to regularly.
We'd taken a few days after the interviews to spend time with his best friend and his fiancee. They showed us around Nashville. We went to Gaylord Opryland, had dinner at Cici's Pizza, had lunch at Calypso Cafe, saw each of their labs at Vandy... just a good time together.
The day before we left, we decided to check out Centennial Park. They were having a large craft fair and it was nice to just walk around and check out things. Having had suitcases that needed to be brought home was the main thing that kept me from buying a bunch of things. It was great taking that weekend to get a feel for, what we found out a few later, would be our new home.
We've been here for 6 years now. We've explored a lot more of Nashville than we had that first weekend, though there's still so much more to go. Rich is no longer working in labs, having found that being a research scientist isn't quite what he wanted to do. But he has found a new career as a Biosafety Officer, and it's one that he really enjoys. There's a very real possibility that we won't end up back in the northeast any time soon. Rich is going to have several more years in this job before he can seriously look toward a higher level position at another university. But that's okay. Because we like Nashville. And the last six years have taught me that it's a place I don't mind raising my children and calling home