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7/25/2003
Decisions
 

I find it amusing that the last thing I asked for in my last journal entry was "stasis." You'll see why in a minute.


We've almost got the house completely unpacked now. There are some boxes remaining in the basement, but everything we need has been given its proper place. We're feeling "comfortable," and we're settling into life in the new house.

New houses call for new routines, or adjustments to old ones. A new house makes you feel as if you should be a new person - maybe one who does the dishes every night as soon as dinner is over, or one who keeps up with ironing and mending. I've given up eighty percent of my television watching, and I'm falling into the habit of cooking dinner at home instead of going out.

I even joined a new gym. One evening, Eric came home from work and dressed to go enjoy a workout; I felt a stab of jealousy at the realization that, even though I had my own membership to that gym, I could never go due to the lack of childcare. The one and only time I tried, I ended up slinging Sam on my hip as I walked on the treadmill. While it's true that he could stay home with Eric, then Eric gets the same stab of jealousy.

My new gym has a kids' room that drew Sam like a candle to a flame. He loves going in there, and I loved the gym itself, with its new facilities and wide expanses of weight and cardio machines. They have aerobics classes, spinning classes, kickboxing, yoga, and more. I have friends who are members there, and they like it, too.

I've been going for a week, and I've lost about five pounds. Not bad for a new person, no?

So I've been going about my new life, becoming the person I want to be. It's been a pretty happy time, aside from the usual arguing and bickering that usually accompany severe changes of life. (Sometimes our new routines conflict with other new routines being established by other people; it can't be helped, and it will hopefully fade with adjustment.) It's been peaceful.

Last Sunday, Eric found an ad in the paper. The community college right up the street from our old apartment is opening a new Center for Fine and Performing Arts in the fall, and they were having a job fair on Wednesday to hire adjunct faculty to teach, among other things, courses in music. Eric showed me the ad. "I'm not pushing you or anything, he said, "but you could do this."

And I could. My music degrees having been lying dormant for a few years now, but I've been feeling the itch lately to begin writing again. The thought of plunging myself back into music academia was a little thrilling. Besides, many of the courses taught at the community college were in the evenings and weekends; if I could do one or two of those, Sam could stay with Eric. I still hesitated, though. Was I ready to go back to work?

The morning of the job fair, I examined my closet; I haven't had to look professionally good for over two years. In the recesses of the closet, I found a green dress I bought for a bridal shower five years ago, which I had hated and considered far too matronly ("Wear a bridesmaid's dress!" and all I could find in my size off the rack was "mother of the bride"). I tried it on and found that it suited my twenty-seven-year-old self much better. In fact, when I looked in the mirror, I suddenly looked exactly like somebody's music teacher. That was the moment that I began to really want this, I think.

On the way there, I prayed. "God, you know I have mixed feelings about all this," I said. "In the past, when I've had to make difficult decisions, you've made them really easy in the end. If this is the path you want for me, then make this one easy, too."

Once inside, I found myself speaking to an extremely hyperactive woman who seemed to be swiftly developing a heartfelt crush on me. "Ooh, a composer! That must be really hard!" She gushed over my resume, let me see that she was circling "Very pleased" in response to all my interview questions, and then passed me over to a second woman with the stage whisper, "I love her! Give her whatever she wants!"

The second woman began going over a schedule with me, and before I knew what was happening, I was hired to teach piano. I was an adjunct instructor almost an hour after I made my prayer.


I sailed home, unable to catch a deep breath. The headiness of the flattering interview combined with the knowledge that I'd soon be back in a music environment worked to leave me with an unerasable grin on my face.

Eric was away on business. I posted my good news on the blog, waited until I thought Eric might be on a break, and called to tell him that I was a (wow!) teacher.

Before I could even tell him my news, though, he jumped in with news of his own. "Hey, honey, how would you like to live in Pennsylvania?" I gulped in shock and almost sat down in the middle of the kitchen floor. It turned out that there were a couple of openings for very good, very intriguing positions at a newly acquired plant in Lancaster. Lancaster is only two hours away from my parents, only ten minutes from Mom's best friend, whom she visits a few times a month.

"But...I just got a job!" I told Eric.

He laughed and sighed at the same time. "I knew you were going to tell me that." He wanted all my details, though I felt far less excited about them than I had a few moments before.

"And what about the house?" I asked. He had reminded them, he said, and they knew that they were going to have to work with us if they wanted him there. His boss seemed keen to get him there; he had referred to the moment Eric's name was mentioned in connection with the opening as a "lightbulb moment."

We had few specifics about the Pennsylvania jobs, so Eric went ahead and told his boss he was "interested" so we could learn more. No commitments yet; we're just learning all we can so we can make an informed decision. For my part, I'm trying to keep laughing so I can keep from crying. All those years I spent wishing to move back home, and now - now that I have a job I want, now that we just bought a house - now the opportunity to move arises. It hit me like a punch in the stomach. I don't even know for what I should hope.


In a sense, I feel a little guilty for being upset. These are two very good situations; the fact that I have to choose between them doesn't negate the fact that either is a blessing. They're simply mutually exclusive blessing. It's the choice between the fifty thousand dollars or the brand new car. It's the gorgeous sunrise or the magnificent sunset. I should feel happy to be able to choose between such wonderful situations.

And yet I'm finding it hard not to dwell on the negatives. Toledo is so far away from home, and if we stay here, the likelihood is that within five years, we'll be in Wisconsin - even further. I went to my orientation as an instructor and learned that the "salary" for my new job is far less that even what I made as a struggling graduate assistant. (When they say that those who go into teaching don't do it for the money, they're kidding even less than you might imagine.) On the other hand, the thought of leaving behind the friends that we've made turns my stomach; the thought of taking Sam away from Zach makes me want to cry. And, even with the minimal compensation, I still want to teach. Holding that grade book in my hands made me feel all tingly inside.

Working out at the gym keeps me from thinking, so I've been pushing myself even harder than I had been. I think I may have overdone it a bit today; I suppose I'll find out tomorrow. But physical pain is much better than the other kind of pain running through my system right now. I just can't believe all this is happening now. Why now?

previous one year ago:
Will she ever get better? Will her memory return, and her mind unbend?
two years ago:
He seemed all the more happy and proud of himself for being awake at an hour reserved for silence and sleep.
three years ago:
I don't even want to begin thinking about having to pack up the whole library and move it.
next
On the Stereo:
Mr. Rogers

On the Bookshelf:
Nothing but the Best: The Struggle for Perfection at the Juilliard School

Gratuitous Sam

Sam and Zach, reading

Napping in the office

First ice pop!



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