I made it to and from my international conference with no major glitches...I even managed to get myself around a foreign city and country with no problems. The traveling alone skills returned rather quickly, and I actually enjoyed the time to think and be quiet with myself. Not to say that I wouldn't have love it if N could have come along...but it was a good week. I saw some sights that I never would have seen otherwise, and once I got over my nervousness at talking to people (ahem, "networking"), I had a very good time at the conference.
Having lived in large cities on the East coast, as well as this small town in the Midwest, it's always interesting to me to see how people respond to my answer to "Where are you from?" When I say I'm from here, they seem to assume that I am some kind of...bumpkin, for lack of a better word. But when I said I was from "near D.C." (where we lived before), they seemed to assume that I was a *big city person* and that I would have *attitude*. It's just interesting.
Side note - the dog is wagging his tail in his sleep. Aww....
I also managed to figure out where I think I want to go for my next grant. And, after meeting with various mentors and faculty over the past week, I think they are pleased with my new direction as well. I am very excited - I think it's an area that I could do a lot of very good research in. My post doc advisor (she's in charge of our grant) said that I'm "in the right place, at the right time", to which I wanted to reply "Great! Then I'll have a job when I'm finished with the post doc?" :) There are no guarantees in life...but I am hopeful that good ideas and a willingness to be open to new directions will help me go places on my chosen career path.
While the conference was good, the ideas were flowing, and I've had a busy but good couple of weeks home, I've also had it kind of thrown in my face that hey! We don't have kids! And we likely never will! So, *sigh*. People are clearly well-meaning, and duh, they don't know what we have been through. But still, it hurts when someone asks whether children are "in the picture". What do I say? No? No, but not by choice? I don't want to give a blow-by-blow of our difficulties, but I also feel like I am shortchanging us if I just make it seem like no, we don't have kids, and we didn't really want kids. Today, a college kid came to the door and asked if I was "the mom". I thought the phrasing was kind of weird, but said yes. Turns out he was shilling for some study guide company? I don't know what one? But he clearly was not interested in talking to me, since we don't have small children. I'm also worried about what to say when we get together with N's friends later this summer...we are the only couple without children, and I just know that it will come up in some way, shape, or form over the course of the weekend. We've briefly talked about how we would answer these questions, but...well, again. Do we want to get into the gory details? Do we want to just leave it at "oh, we'd love to have kids some day"? This isn't something you can really Google, although hm, I might try that.
I am also trying to get over myself and my focus on our infertility...I don't want this to be my defining characteristic, much as I didn't want the quest for a child to be my/our defining characteristic. I need to broaden my life, make new friends, and try new activities...make connections that don't rely on the presence of children for them to flourish...and learn more about what I want to do with MY time over the next however-many years. I need to mourn the family we didn't have, but I also need to live the life that we do have. It's a pretty good one.