Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deer in headlights

Greg and I are very different people. He likes to collect piles of paper on the dining room table and leave them there for eternity. I prefer to throw things out. He wants french fries and pizza and eggplant parmesan. I want lattes and ice cream and cookies. He's funny. I try.

We fight -- all the time, actually, like any healthy cohabitors do -- but it's always about dumb stuff. Who left flour on the refridgerator handle (me), who didn't put their jeans in the laundry pile (him), who's going to let the dogs out when it's -10 with windchill (neither of us), or whether the forks should point up or down when you put them in the dishwasher (don't even get me started).

Yet, despite our superficial differences, my husband an I have and incredibly solid relationship that is based on our common values. When it comes to money, religion, career, politics, family, geography, food...really, truly, we are in synch. We just don't disagree about that stuff. And one nice personality trait that ties together our mutual core values? We both love to plan, oh how we love to talk about the future. Greg's obsessed with stability. I'm about as goal-oriented as you can get. We both have our eyes on the carrot -- the same carrot.

The problem with this shared trait is that we're both such obsessive planners that we never actually decide on a plan to follow. Imagine detailed scenarios (about 20 of them), all of which are very specific and very complicated, and none of which can actually be predicted with any certainty. We just talk. I want him to make the decision. He wants me to make the decision. Neither of us would like to be held responsible for the result of a decision. When we got engaged, it was sort of like, "should we?" "maybe" "what do you think?" "I guess it could be good" "so we're going to get married?" "yeah, I suppose we are" "huh, is this the part where we're supposed to kiss?". The baby conversation was particularly entertaining, given my subsequent infertility (we had no idea exactly how out of our ability to plan having a baby would be). Those early conversations looked something like, "Well if we had the baby in March and I was doing XYZ and you were doing ABC that would be great because then we could take a trip to Cape Cod in September and it'd be the perfect weather for stroller walks"*. Etc. Sorry, I'm boring myself.

*The scenario may be fictional, but the level of detail is not.

Today, Greg and I went to see a house. The house itself is perfect for us. It is very nearly our dream house. It sits on waterfront. Greg could dock his boat in our backyard. The rooms are nicely situated. It is light and beautiful inside, and thoroughly updated. We can afford it. The neighborhood, the school system? Not so much a dream. They're a nightmare, actually... something that would work in the short term, but not in the long term.

(Hence ensues 8 hours of mind-numbing conversation about the various possibilities for a nanny or private school system, and whether I'll be an academic or working for some big pharma company and if this will destroy all chances of moving to spot X on the map, and if and when there will be another baby, and whether I'll have health insurance or not, and etc, etc, and etc.)

This conversation is exhausting.

The house is really great. We could never afford anything like it in a better location. Its personality and size fits us well. But we also would not be improving on what is frustrating us now -- the crime, the lack of neighbors, the absurdly high taxes, and the daycare dilemma. It isn't really a long-term house. It's a short term house.

We're so close to making a change in our lives. My job runs out -- permanently -- in November. I'm working on a grant that I won't know about until June. If the grant falls through, I'll be on the job hunt. A big change is coming. There are the stable options and the exciting options. There are the money makers and the family prioritizers. There are so, so many paths we could follow, and the choices are making us dizzy. Greg and I are not good at sitting and waiting during this uncertainty. We want to plan. We want this stressful time of not knowing to be over with.

There's Jack to consider. It's all about Jack, now, it's all about our family core. And it's such a new thing. How can we base all of our future decisions on something we don't even know much about yet?

I have no answers.

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