It’s official. Clancy has signed the contract and we will be relocating to Arapaho (pronounced Ah-RAWP-ah-hoe) within the next couple of months. We’re officially going to be on there for a short-term contract, but at this point there’s no reason to believe we won’t sign on for a full multi-year tour. Will it be where we end up permanently? Time will tell. Unlike the last three places we’ve lived, though, this is a place where we would actually have the option of settling down.
Callie is a town of several thousand and is pretty far from being the biggest city in a state without much in the way of cities. It will be, by far, the most rural place I have ever lived. The nearest town of any significant size, Tupelo, is an hour away with and you have to go about two hours out before you get to places with such illustrious amenities as airports. The high school graduates classes about the size of my classes in elementary school. The local college is a third the size of my high school. My job prospects there are not particularly good since there are only two employers of any size. There is a two-screen movie theater in town (that understandably seems to stick to family movies) and only a six-screen in Tupelo.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Callie is, for a rural town, a very pleasant sort of place. Because there’s a college there, there’s more to do than there are in other towns of similar size. Instead of being surrounded by other towns, it’s surrounded by the great outdoors with beautiful mountains, natural parks, and so on. For a generally agricultural area, it’s also pretty well-off. Poverty rates are less than half that of the state as a whole. It also has a strikingly educated population for its city profile — above the national average, in fact. The schools are supposed to be pretty good with little crime that even manages to avoid the meth problems that plague the region.
But perhaps most promisingly, the people that live there really like it there. It’s one of the few places I’ve been where the residents don’t want it to be somewhere else. They don’t think in terms of “Well, of course I would rather be living somewhere more expensive, but this is where I got the job (and/or can afford to live).” They actually seemed to underplay this during our first interview. It was only when we announced our intention to take the position that they started really gushing over the town. So they weren’t just trying to sell us on it. And while I speak of Callie in particular, the same is has long been true of the people I’ve known in the State of Arapaho.
For a town of its type, it’s about the best that I can ask for. The question I’m going to be facing while I’m there is whether or not I can adapt to a lifestyle so far removed from everything? I go back and forth on this. Part of me worries about whether or not I will be able to fit in there. One of the things I like about cities is that it’s much easier to find your social niche and I generally have more in common with people that live in cities than in small towns. Further, I’m not an outdoors person, generally speaking, so I’m not sure where that leaves me.
On the other hand, I’m highly adaptable. I’ve never lived anywhere I haven’t adjusted to and I would have thought crazy anyone that said I would have adjusted to living in Deseret. So maybe I will take up golf. It’s not far from some good snowmobiling places. There are also a lot of community-involvement opportunities. The town also takes great pride in its high school football team, which is a relatively familiar concept. The good news is that I’m going to have a couple of years to figure it out. When I visited my ex-roommate Hubert and his twin girls, the thought occurred to me that when we have little ones running around, there’s not going to be as much time to be out and about. So even if Callie is a bust, the opportunity costs won’t be as high because it’ll be a couple household-centered years.
For now, it’s the perfect opportunity for Clancy. She was willing to shelve a number of things she wanted to do for me when we were interviewing at Gemini Falls and the good news about Callie is that she won’t have to. Honestly, this entire process struck us very much about how it’s supposed to be. There was never (well, almost never) that vague sense that something wasn’t quite right or that we had something to prove. When we had concerns about the initial contract, they were happy to work with us on it. She is a perfect fit for this position and the position is a perfect fit for her, at least on paper. Besides which, there may be some opportunities at the hospital for me down the line as they seek to expand and digitize their operations.
In the end, though, it’s going to come down to people. So far, so good. Of course, the ones I’ve met are doctors and spouses of doctors and others employed at the hospital, but my social needs are not that great. If I can make a few good connections and find my place in the community, we’ll be in pretty good shape. If I can’t, we’ll move on when the contract expires a few years from now (or sometime before or sometime after that).
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