I’ve spent a good part of the past six years waiting. Waiting to move out of San Francisco, waiting to fond a new job once we moved, waiting for the day that Mark and I could start living together full time, waiting to graduate…
It’s stressful living your life in anticipation of how great everything will be once the next major life change happens, because (a) it keeps you from looking for things to enjoy about the way things currently are, and (b) things often aren’t perfect once you cross that next hurdle, either. And that’s sort of where I am right now. Things are looking pretty good for me: Mark has given notice in San Francisco, I’ve graduated, and career prospects are looking really good. Even so, I’m still feeling incredibly stressed because I still have so many major changes facing me in the next few months.
To start, I’m in the middle of interviewing and (for lack of a better term) career development right now. I was never completely explicit about it here, but last fall, a couple of months before graduating, I landed what was essentially my dream job, through a combination of luck, good timing, and, frankly, being pretty good at what I do. The problem is that this was a fixed-term job, ending in June 2010. There’s a very good chance I can keep it (actually, an even better version of it) long term, but I have to reapply and go through the whole academic hiring process, which is much more than I had to do last fall. I’ve made the first cut, and I think I have a better than average shot, but it’s not a sure thing.
I’m simultaneously in the application process for another, similar job at a different university in another city. I’ve made the second cut there and am one of probably two or three finalists. I’ll be interviewing in person for that one soon. Yes, this sounds like an enviable position in the current economic climate. And it is. I frankly can’t believe my good fortune. But there are a lot of decisions to be made, based on whether I get one or both offers (and in what sequence). And there are even more decisions to be made if I don’t get one of the two. So everything is on hold now. Again.
And then there’s the matter of where to live. It’s very likely we’ll soon be selling this Winston-Salem house that I very much love. There are too many rational arguments against keeping it: it’s too big, it’s a little too expensive, and it’s thirty miles from my current job (and much farther from my prospective alternate). It’s not really justifiable. That said, I’m having a really hard time letting go of it emotionally. This house is the first place that’s seemed like a long-term home to me since I left my parents’ house more than twenty years ago. I’ve spent four years here looking forward to the time Mark and I could live here together full-time. And now, just as we are going to be living together full-time again, I realize that we probably aren’t going to be doing it here. Even though I’m incredibly excited at the prospect of our being anywhere as long as we can do it together, I’ve invested a lot of time and emotional energy in the little fantasy surrounding this house, and it makes me kind of sad to let it go.
And there may be more geographical issues on the horizon. I’m not entirely certain our future involves North Carolina at all. In fact, if I don’t land one of these two jobs, I’m almost certain that it doesn’t. And I’m still not completely certain how I feel about that. I’m not averse to leaving the area, and there are many days when the prospect even excites me. I don’t hate it here, but I realize that don’t especially love it, either. My aging parents are a big factor, although I can’t really let their lives dictate how I’ll live mine (and I think they would understand that). I can’t let them create one more “on hold” factor.
Allow me a little self-absorption here. In the past six years, it’s been a pretty steady diet of almost all the major life stressors: geographic change, career change/unemployment, relationship changes, and major health issues (my own and my family’s). And Mark has experienced them simultaneously. He faced a similar dilemma a year or two back–realizing that he was wasting his life by waiting for some magic moment where life might “begin” again–and I think he did a better job of dealing with it than I’m doing now. In fact, his situation was even more bleak, because it was playing out in a little hovel of a room in San Francisco rather than a nice big house in Winston-Salem.
I know it was much, much worse for him, and I can’t begin to express how much I love him and appreciate everything he’s gone through in these past few years.
I also know that people all over the world would kill to have my current set of “problems”.
Unfortunately, knowing all this has, I think, caused me minimize the way I’ve been feeling and to convince myself that I somehow didn’t deserve to feel apprehensive or stressed. But I do feel apprehensive and I do feel stressed, so much so that I find it really hard lately to think about much of anything else. It’s becoming an obsession that’s keeping me from enjoying my life. And the fact that other people have it much worse than I do doesn’t really make it any better, thanks. When you have a toothache, that fact that someone else is having a heart attack doesn’t mean that your tooth still doesn’t hurt like hell. Granted, it may give you a little more perspective, but the tooth still keeps right on hurting.
I’ve been restless all my life, and have always been one to keep moving and enjoy the passing scenery through the car window. I’m not sure why that’s becoming so much harder for me lately. Myabe there has just been too damned much “scenery” the past few years. I don’t think it’s so much that I want to stop moving forward, but that I want to feel like I can stop and enjoy where I am once in a while without constantly agonizing over the next leg of the trip.