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All Heaval and No Up

This has been a singularly strange year for me and Graham, but perhaps this is the sort of thing that happens to most couples in their first year of marriage.

I suppose the best example is the most recent.  At the beginning of September, someone asked Graham to dj a party in late October.  Graham immediately arranged to take time off work from the club for that night, and he started working on the party.  He spent hours downloading music, working out playlists, thinking through what he thought the party called for.  While the host knew that Graham played primarily electro-swing, Graham wasn't sure that was the best music for this particular party.  So Graham started looking for some of the music he'd heard in the U.K, while he was there this summer.  He thought that it'd be a nice opportunity to show off a different sort of music to a fairly large audience.   While he didn't have many details about how long he'd be playing or in what order with other artists, Graham put many hours of thought into this party. And of course, last week, the party host contacted Graham to cancel the engagement.  A day or so later, Graham released all of the music he'd gathered on his Soundcloud. (It's since been taken down because Graham wasn't happy with the quality of the set, but I think he'll put it up again soon after he re-records it.)

Towards the beginning of the year, I applied for a job that opened up at my work.  Between submitting the application and the interview, I found out that I was pregnant, so I wasn't entirely sure that it'd be the best timed move in the world.  But it was certainly a step up, and there aren't that many steps up in my organization so I saw it through.  After the interview, I had all sorts of conflicting emotions about it, and I was even more conflicted when I found out that I wasn't going to make it to the next round of interviews.  (Apparently I didn't have enough "experience".  I asked the HR person how I'd get more experience in this organization, and she sort of shrugged her shoulders. Later, someone asked if I'd be interested in moving to that department to get experience. I looked at the pay cut that would be involved and politely declined.) Going through the interview process, I had to think about all of the things I would do if I had the position.  It was an interesting exercise that made me flex my imagination quite a bit.

In April, I found out that I was pregnant. For six weeks, Graham and I spent hours and hours talking about the baby and the changes we'd have to make in our lives.  It was a weird thing to do.  We knew that everything in our lives was going to change dramatically, and we slowly began to absorb this new reality.   We'd just told our families about the pregnancy when we went in for our first appointment and discovered that the twins I was carrying weren't going to make it.  The five minutes when I thought I'd be having twins were some of the most surreal in my life.  I was terrified and confused and excited and nervous and overjoyed and all sorts of other things all at once.  And then they couldn't find the heartbeats and we went through three days of hell of not knowing. Finally, at the end, nine weeks and four days into my pregnancy, all of the hopes and dreams and preparations and ideas about this little life we'd been getting ready for were suddenly moot.

In late July, I was sitting in my office minding my own business when I got a cold call from a headhunter.  Some prestigious institution in another state was looking for someone like me. Was I interested?  Usually I say no, but this institution and this state were attractive to me, and I held on the phone.  Two phone conversations later, I was flying to Dallas to meet the headhunter.  And then I was talking to the institution and then they wanted to fly me out.  Lots of scheduling conflicts and work crises made it so I couldn't get there until the first week of September. But it was a good visit, and I got a good feeling from the place.  There were some drawbacks, sure, but by and large, it seemed like a cool job.   The whole time, I was taking the "let's just see what happens" attitude about whether I wanted it or not. It never really occurred to me that I'd be their top candidate.  But after I flew out, the headhunter called to tell me I really needed to think about what my answer would be, because she was pretty sure that they wanted me.  She gave me the number that she thought they'd offer me.  It was a lot, but it wasn't as much as we'd thought that it'd be for that place in that state.

So Graham and I spent a full week talking about what we want and what our plans are and where we want to be. We looked at every aspect of our lives and where we thought we wanted to go. Professionally, there's no question that it would have been a step up for me, and maybe for Graham, but that was an unknown. Financially? We were uncertain. The dollars were more, but so would have been the cost of living.  And our study of the cost-of-living calculators indicated that the salary bump wasn't necessarily enough to make up for the change. But it was a lot of money.  Lifestyle?  We live 20 minutes from anywhere we want to be.  I have a 17 minute commute on the outside.  Given the geography of the place we were considering, lots of time in transport was likely in our future if we moved, especially for me from home to work.  Family? We have a lot of chosen family near the place we were looking at, but no blood family.  Olivia moved back to Texas literally the week I got the call from the headhunter. Jose will be back to Houston in a year.  My parents are likely to retire soon to the ranch, so we won't see them as often, but that's an hour and a half away.  Housing? We love our house and we've been thinking through the next steps for expansion, especially after the pregnancy. Our house has bumped up in value in the last two years due to a lot of people wanting to live here, and we think we can afford construction within the year off of home equity alone.   The main driver in cost of living difference, though, between the two places was housing.  Real estate prices were just breathtaking, and even though we'd have plenty of cash in our pocket if we sold our house and moved, we'd never find something comparable.  And kids?  More money means more security for them, but at the same time, there's tons of support and resources here.  There? We had no idea.  Still, kids are entirely hypothetical at this point.  Celosa and Fusilli? It's not as hot there in the summer and there are lots of pooch friendly places.  But I'd likely be out of the house more often.

It was an agonizing week, and it was one of the hardest decisions I'd ever had to make. We'd go back and forth and back and forth. One day, I was convinced we were about to start packing. The next, I was sure that we were staying here.  I'd say something out loud and then declare myself crazy for even articulating the idea of giving X up.  And that worked both ways. The good news was that it didn't look like there was likely to be a bad decision, since we were so on the fence.   The bad news is that there wasn't really a bad decision that clearly showed itself.

In the end, I called the headhunter and thanked her for the work but said we decided we were going to stay here.  Weird, weird, weird.  If asked the day that I got the call from the headhunter if I'd take it if they offered it to me, I probably would have said yes, of course.  Going through the actual analysis, though, was something else entirely.

And so, as we round into the final quarter of the year, we're more or less in the same place as we were at the beginning of the year.  But not really.  We've had lots, lots of thinking, lots of planning. And I think we have a much better idea of what we want both individually and as a family, going forward.  We really had to articulate to each other what we want and what we value, and that was a good exercise.  And so, like Graham's party that never was, we come out of the preparing for major life change with great stuff to work with going forward.  And when we finally do have major life change, I think we'll be much better prepared for it than we were a year ago.


( 3 comments — Say something )
Oct. 21st, 2013 10:26 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a lot of things, for sure. I like the spin you've put on it - everything's a learning experience, after all, whether we take it that way or not.

Hope the year finishes on a positive note.
Oct. 21st, 2013 11:36 pm (UTC)
i think we had a week like that, worried about *every*thing when Himself was deciding to quit one company and go to another. in the end, it was good.

i'm glad that the two of you have moved forward together and made decisions that you as a family are happy about. communication is the thing that makes or breaks a marriage, i have found. congratulations on finding yours!

of course sorrow on the loss of the pregnancy, and hopefully things will look up for you there, too.
Nov. 11th, 2013 06:34 pm (UTC)
Love the new look of your journal. And thanks for the post; we've all missed you here.
Miss Maine
( 3 comments — Say something )