Seven-Eleven

Either/or. Seven weeks, eleven weeks. We’ll find out more in four weeks.

I’m daunted by these numbers. Far more daunted, actually, than I was at the now two-year-old and permanently postponed prospect of dropping everything and moving to Europe. I’m guessing it’s because I can visualize everything far more clearly. And because my husband spent the day working on a bunch of home projects that had been back-burnered. Everything is on the front burner now.

But, the prospect of spending my 44th birthday–five months from today–within driving distance of my parents, my sister and her family, my brother and his family… the prospect of living somewhere that could comfortably accommodate all of them? It is thrilling.

I’m going to have to insist that they come visit. Yes: we’ll all play in the backyard with the kids. And we’ll cook. Maybe I’ll finally learn to make the dough for samosa all by myself. I want that.

I want a lot.

And it’s all going to come. Fast.

“just when I thought I was out…”

Okay, maybe I’m over-stating things a little. But…

Roughly 12 hours ago — 12! — a friend texted me “Haven’t seen anything on your imminent future. What’s up w/that? Do I need to prepare for any bombs to drop?”

I was nonchalant, saying something to the effect that we could move in “six to nine months, just like I’ve been saying for the past two years.”

I really have been believing that. Early last week, two corporations made some news public, news that reflects the reason that we didn’t move to Europe a year and a half ago. It’s news that sets a new timeline of sorts: sometime in the first half of 2014.

So my “six to nine months” expectation seems pretty reasonable. We have a sense of where we’ll head next–it will likely be back up north, though a little further north than I’d expected… where there are four distinct seasons with trees that change colors and with ground that sees snow… where houses have basements. I miss these things. I like the idea of them. So do the kids. So does my husband.

Six to nine months. That seems like an eternity. No need to succumb to my hyperactive desire to anticipate and scope out and predict and line everything up for our next move, all within days. I can take my time, live in the moment, stop and smell the roses, etc.

But “just when I thought I was out,” new pieces of information “pull me back in” to that frenetic, planning-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life-now-and-I-mean-now place.

This morning, as my husband was leaving for work, he casually mentioned that his boss said yesterday, “I haven’t heard anything new or specific about your trajectory, but if I’m asked, do you have a preference for when you want to move? Let me know…”

Now, my husband and I had already agreed that we’d move whenever it was best for the company to move us. It seemed (to me) silly at this point to say, “we want to move in Month X.” Silly, because over the last 18 months I have lost my trust in expected timelines and have ceded most control to circumstances. Somebody says “three months” and I multiply it by three to accommodate the current pattern of reality.

But this morning, learning that his boss asked him the question? It elevated things. It changed the pattern. Something turned on. No, not something. EVERYthing. My husband said words like “Thanksgiving,” and “Christmas” and “Spring Break,” as potential move dates that wouldn’t bother us. That’s three to six months, not six to nine months.

I was still in bed when my husband told me all this. I put my glasses on, grabbed my phone, and started researching academic calendars in the school district we’ll likely move to. (When I say “likely” I mean “maybe but who the heck really knows anymore.”) I determined when that potential future state of residence administers its standardized tests of third graders. And now, I’m re-subscribing to my little real estate alerts about homes for sale in cities X, Y, and Z. And soon, I imagine I’ll be online looking at houses, and communities, and commute times. I’ll start browsing online for clothes for cooler climates. Why? Why do I do this to myself? My husband just posed one question, on his way to work this morning. He’s not shifting into overdrive. Why am I?

It’s so stupid.

Or maybe it’s not. Is it really a good idea to try to be somebody I’m not — a relaxed, let’s-see-what-happens, everything-will-work-out type of person? I think, given the ups and downs of the past months with regard to where exactly we’ll be living, I’ve convinced myself that I need to be that person. I’ve convinced myself that if I had been that person, uncertainty would bother me less.

But why should I strive to be “unbothered?” This whole thing has been a little bothersome, after all. When your life’s short-term trajectory depends on the will and needs of a corporation that puts food on your table, and when that corporation demands so much time from your husband that he doesn’t have the time or energy to shift into planning overdrive, there’s no shame–in fact there’s great benefit–in being who I am.

A corporate wife who needs to relocate a family rather regularly, trailing her spouse? She needs to be a planner, a seer of contingencies. She needs to make changes to routine seem routine. She can’t leave that part of herself behind. It’s the way she needs to be.

“They pull me back in.” I never really left. In fact, I think I liked being there.

by any other name

So the latest news on the relocation front: we should have clarity in a couple of months about moving at the beginning of 2013.

Since we’ve already done so much advance work on relocating our children (passports, school applications, selection, and admission,  immunizations, and even purchasing some winter coats) I can now focus more on that weird in-between emotion. I don’t know of a word for it: the feeling that lies exactly between wistfulness and excitement.

I really like our life here. We have friends, a community, a nice little routine. We’re a plane ride away from family, but we’ve always been a plane ride away from most of our family, even before my husband and I met and had children. (There were six years where we lived in the same town as my sister’s family. I loved that.)

And I love our home. It surprises me sometimes, that I love it. Generally I try not to get too attached, since I know that upon setting up house in any given spot, we’ll likely leave in a few years, but I do love the vibe of this house. Its order, its light, its sounds… It flows. It’s not too big, it’s not too small. It’s literally just right.

But moving–starting over fresh, in a brand new European place with clean lines and lots of light (I’m online a lot, reviewing rental options), with efficient use of space, with easy access to all of Europe, a top-notch bilingual education for the children, general safety and security, intrinsic beauty–it’s intoxicating.

Well. I love and cherish what I have and I look forward to more.

The word for what I’m feeling, between wistfulness and excitement? It’s greed.

Yuck.

It’s time for this corporate wife to clean her current home thoroughly. Hard work and a toilet brush do wonders for a greedy mind.

Our house is very, very clean.