I just read a post at Ferule & Fescue about mid-career restlessness: the desire to be able to move, post-tenure, even if one doesn't particularly want to move. Flavia makes a good point here--she argues that moving between jobs is a visible sign of success at a point in one's career when there are few big landmarks remaining (you got a tenure-track job, you published a book [maybe], you got tenure...now what?). I do think that that's a part of it.
But there's also this: Given the job market and the paucity of jobs, and the near dearth of Associate-level jobs, once you have tenure, it can feel like this, right here, is the rest of your life.
I'll admit that I've been struggling with that. I drive past the Field Township Cemetery and I wonder, "Will I be buried there?" It seems horrible and strange--I am not from here; this isn't where my people are--but, after another (here's hoping!) fifty years of living, my people will be here. Where else will they be? My son will have grown up here. My entire career will have been spent here. Maybe we'll move at retirement--in 27-or-so years--but...um...that's not very satisfying.
I like where I live, I like it well enough, but it's not where I want to spend the rest of my life. There.
And I don't like living 1000 miles from my family, and slightly more than that from many of my dearest friends. And I really don't like the idea of that remaining the case until my family and friends are dispersed and/or dead. I.e., forever.
This wasn't meant to be a macabre post. There's just something so final about tenure. Of course, we could both change careers, look into other fields, etc. Clearly, I'm not (yet) so troubled by my prospects--or my future burial site--that I'm motivated to pursue these options; I like my career, and I really like the wide-open spaciousness of summer. So I'm not at that point. Besides, maybe a new job will open up? Maybe I'll get really, really lucky?
--Or maybe that's precisely the kind of thinking that will lead to my one day, despite my dearest wishes and intentions, looking into grave plots half a mile south of my house.