Sunday, March 29, 2009

Six Years

Six years ago tomorrow, Dan told me that he was really enjoying the conversation we were having in the parking lot of our job, standing next to our cars, and he'd really like to continue having it, but he was cold and tired and would I like to come over for awhile?

I said yes. And six hours later, he kissed me for the first time.

In the past six years, we've moved in together, worked together, gotten new jobs, planned a wedding, moved halfway across the country, had a baby, lost jobs, made new friends, gotten pregnant again, changed plans mid-stream, evaluated and re-evaluated and re-evaluated what was the best thing for us and our immediate family and our extended families, and now, six years later, we've come to another bend in the road.

I lost my job earlier this week. I know for a fact that my former place of employment knows about this blog and I am still waiting to hear about unemployment benefits, although I was assured it was not a factor, so I won't go into the finer points of the loss of this job, but suffice it to say that, working in media, it wasn't totally unexpected and the economy has a great deal to do with it.

I am 26 weeks pregnant and I can't go running out to get another job right now. We can't make it here on one income. We're having a baby in July. Our parents are getting older, and we want our kids to really know them. We miss having the backup of family. Dan isn't happy with the school where he teaches, he feels that it's been a hostile work environment and the administration is phoning it in in the worst possible way. And worst of all, in five years, we feel like we haven't made any real progress toward the things we want--a real home, some security. It's incredibly expensive to live here, and becomes more so all the time. Add to that the expense and inconvenience of Dan having to re-certify as a teacher this year, and it's all just a little more than we can handle.

So. We've come to a decision. We're going to finish out the school year and have this baby, and then we're going to move back to Kalamazoo, permanently. In a lot of ways, it breaks my heart. I love it here. I've always loved it here. I have friends here. My best friends are in town twice a year, minimum, and I've loved that I've had the chance to see them so often. There are great restaurants and museums and places to go, an endless supply that we'll never get tired of seeing. I love it here.

But our families are a long way away. We need the backup, especially with a new little person arriving so soon. We've been the victim of crimes here, repeatedly, and every time it knocks us down and it's just so fucking hard to get back up. And we're exhausted.

I don't mind that it's hard. I don't. This is being a grown-up, and I'm not afraid to stand on my own two feet, especially with Dan standing next to me--I couldn't ask for a better partner in life. But it should be a little easier, shouldn't it? After five years, should we still be fighting this hard, every day? I want to let my guard down a little, and I still can't. I don't mind that it's hard, but it shouldn't be this hard.

I don't know exactly what we're going to do. Dan can absolutely sub until he finds a real teaching job, and his teaching certificate, which he originally got in Michigan, is still good there. He'll have to take some classes this year in order to keep it current, but he's willing. The economy in Michigan is terrible, and I'm pretty well assuring myself a boring job in marketing or something like that, stuff I've done before, but I'm also giving The New Girl a chance to have me all to herself for awhile. Max got that chance, and I feel like I owe it to her as well. I owe it to myself. This is the last baby I'm going to have, and I want this for all of us.

My parents are thrilled of course. We're having a hard time getting a read on Dan's mother's feelings on the subject, mostly because her reaction was to immediately change the subject to something totally unrelated, which enraged me to the point that I had to get off the phone and find something else to do. I am probably going to leave this topic alone for the time being, as I have nothing productive to say about the subject. We anticipate staying with my parents for at least a few weeks, and then, depending on the job situation, either looking for an apartment or a house--home prices in Michigan cannot be beat right now, and we're pretty happy about that. A lot of the salient details of all of this remain firmly up in the air at the moment, but we're putting our ducks in a row to make all of this work in the best, easiest, most expedient way we can think of. Additionally, living in Kalamazoo, our kids will qualify for the Promise, possibly the best college scholarship program in the country.

The lesson in all of this is that I am learning, once again, that things that feel permanent seldom are, except for things like the love you feel for your children, your partner, your friends, and your family. Six years ago, Dan took my hand and stepped off a cliff, and the results have been serendipitous; I couldn't have asked for more. This summer, we'll take a step off another cliff, and it's scary, but I've got no choice but to hope that our luck holds.


Kimberly said...

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck. That really sucks. What I mean is, it sucks for me. It seriously sucks for me, but for you, I agree that it does seem to be the right thing for you. Now that I have a baby of my own, I don't know how you and Dan managed it out there all by yourselves. I get comfort from knowing that I can call on any number of people and somebody can get to me in a matter of minutes. It is a great and calming feeling, and I'm so glad you'll get to have that. And at least I'll get to see you and the new girl in July, when I'm there next. And I bet you'll love being a stay at home mom being closer to your friends and family. And this just means that we'll have to take family vacations together at least once a year. And now that I'm not working, I can come to Michigan to visit more often. This will all work out. Yes, this is me consoling myself. I'd be a lot more heartbroken about this if I didn't think it was the right thing for you. But I absolutely think it is the right thing. I've come to worry a little more about you and Dan being out there alone, and every time I leave you, it feels more and more wrong. This is right, I know it. Remember we love you.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

It sucks for me too, but it seems good for you guys.

Let's get together before you go.

Treen said...

I would have been enraged at that reaction too.

I am still excited. You are right about the market, things can't be beat right now. You will be able to find a NICE house for a fraction of what you were paying for your apartment. We did. And I have no doubt in my mind that if you go the apartment route you'll be able to find a big one for much less than you were paying out there too.

As much as family can drive you nuts, it's so nice to have them right there to drive you nuts. And we'll be happy to be a mini road trip away from you.

I know things will work out for you.