This is my family tree:
I drew this diagram from memory (it's not complete) on the whiteboard in my office last year to illustrate a point to a colleague: family is everything to me. Those shapes aren't just entries in a historical record, they're people who I've known and who have surrounded me my entire life. Not being near to them is as unnatural to me as not including my middle initial/name in my signature*. The shapes inside the circle are all in Chicago. And it's for that reason that I've always known my time at Microsoft and in Seattle could never be forever.
Since arriving in Seattle 8-years ago I've flown across the country (and to Canada once) for weddings, birthdays, graduations, almost every major US holiday (can you imagine having to call all those people if you miss Christmas?), a couple of drivers tests, and for one particular relation for the opening night of every Twilight and Harry Potter film (you know who you are). This Thanksgiving I finally got tired of flying back and forth
But I've missed a lot too. I'm the third oldest of 14 first-cousins. Boys and girls have become men and women while I've been here. I've also lost three aunts, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a beloved family pet, and had a major health scare with my grandmother in that 8-years. I've attended at least six funerals of people who have loved me. And the thing that's kept me up almost every night is the fear that there's a clock ticking down on the time I have left with someone else that I'm really close to. I don't know who or when. But I fear everytime I get a phone call from home that I'm too late. And that this time it'll be a loss that shatters me. Independent of my intention to write this letter this morning I got a text that my uncle is in the hospital with pneumonia.
Now, I know that's life. I've been blessed with a huge extended family on both my mother's and my father's side and to have the opportunity to be close to all of them. The cloud to that silver lining is that if I do live a long life I have a grim parade of caskets ahead of me. Depressing as that thought is there is hope. You can't avoid losing relationships over time. But you can form new ones to keep you going, like shoveling fresh coals onto a fire. I've become an uncle twice over in the last 3-years. My niece was born two weekends ago. Looking in the smiling faces of new people is surprisingly inspiring no matter what troubles and atrocities you know are going on in the world. Which brings me to the second thing that haunts me when I go to bed:
I've always imagined myself with a family of my own. But it’s hard to take the first steps on that when you're torn between two cities. Do you start a relationship knowing at any day you could decide to pack up and move 2,000 miles away? What about her career? What if she has a huge family she's close to and wants to stay near them? And on top of that I have all the usual concerns of a man in his 30s: If I fall madly in love this weekend how long will we have together just us before we need to think about kids? How many do we have time for? How old will I be when they graduate—get married? How long will they have with their grandparents, great grandma, great aunts and uncles? Will they be as close with their cousins as I was with mine? I can't even begin to answer these questions in Seattle because I'm not staying, and I can't answer them in Chicago because I'm not there. But all of that's about to change:
I'm moving back to Chicago. My last day at Microsoft has come and gone and I'm just wrapping up loose ends here in Seattle. I'm thinking Spring or Summer, whichever comes first (Chicago doesn't really have a Spring—Winter and Summer just sort of fight each other every other day for a while). I have no immediate plans to get another job in Chicago. Instead I’m looking forward to meeting my new niece, teaching her and her brother the ways of the Force and the platformer. And of course there'll be lots of time with other family and video games with friends. I'm going to eat everything in sight. I'm not saying Seattle is a desolate wasteland of flavor devoid of all seasoning (they have curry), just that I've done things for grilled onions that I'm not proud of. There's great food here in Seattle but no place has the diverse landscape of tastes like the Windy City; it's more than our pizza—which is superior to New York pizza in every way (Alex)—or our hotdogs—which are superior to New York hotdogs in every way (Alex)—it's everything. I'm also looking forward to sitting down with my mom and finally learning to cook (read: writing down) and eating those 40-50 recipes that prevent me from enjoying food not made by her so that I might share them one day with all those grandkids she keeps reminding me I promised her. And lastly, I'm looking to asking the very patient woman back home whom I've been orbiting for the last few years on a proper date at a novel time, like a Wednesday, or (gasp) two Saturdays in a row.
As for Visual Basic, it's in good hands. I'm very excited to announce that VB MVP and industry veteran, Kathleen Dollard has taken the helm as the Program Manager for Visual Basic. I don't think there's anyone I'd feel better to look after it than Kathleen. Many years ago when I was just getting started with VB.NET I'd check the VB dev center every day and see pictures of Kathleen and other great MVPs gracing the banner there with articles on every topic. It's been an honor and an absolute pleasure to work with and engage them all in my time as a Microsoft FTE but I've always been in awe of the way Kathleen completely commands a room full of nerds whenever she speaks. It's no wonder she's been voted by her peers as VB MVP of the Year for like 20 years straight or something. She doesn't know it but she is and has always been my absolute hero. I look very forward to engaging Kathleen and the VB Team once again as a loyal customer, and now as an open source contributor
And awaaaaaaaaaay I go!
-Anthony Diante Green
* Because my father's name is also Anthony, all of and only my paternal relatives and associates always address me by my middle name, I always include my middle initial/name in respect of the fact those people are an inseparable part of me—my name is incomplete without it as I am without them.