01 February 2008

On Learning How to Not Plan

As I make tracks on my Google map and think about ways to make this move forward smooth for everyone I find that even though I am trying not to get my hopes up, am trying not to count too much on any one outcome to this whole life-in-the-air situation, that the idea of staying in this house has become more and more remote.

This house was our first, the prize at the end of a very long and tedious road to owning our own home in a part of the country where the average cost of a single family home is over $300,000. Tucked into a little side street with a great yard for the kids it was a stroke of luck that we found it at all. It's small, but cozy, with a cottagey feel that I really like. The girls have the upstairs all to themselves which has made my no-toys-downstairs rule pretty enforceable.

When we moved in it seemed like we'd be here forever, I could imagine the girls have their friends over, as teenagers, imagine dinner parties and weekend visits, imagine raising the slanted roof upstairs, adding a bedroom and expanding the kitchen, over the years of course.

Starting way back in September when I began my grad school application stuff in earnest, I made a commitment to myself to take things one step at a time: do the GRE, get my recommendation letters, request my transcripts, fill out applications, mail things... There were so many things that needed to be done that it was easy to set a limit on how many things I could do at once.

Now that most of the little things are done I find my mind drifting into the future, thinking about a new house, about a new place, making friends (do I even know how to do that anymore? did I ever?), enrolling the children in a new school, figuring out where stuff is. The things is, I won't know for at least two more months where those things will be happening, there are still too many pieces that need to fall into place before I can even know what the feasible options will be.

Although the shift has been gradual, I find myself now in a place of reckless ambivalence, with a proclivity for careless promises. The possibility of staying here - originally one of the potential outcomes, the back-up plan - has become so remote that when Matilda asks about the future, something as simple as whether Freya go to her kindergarten class, I shrug and say lightly, sure, if we're still here. It's such an easy answer. When you have no idea what will happen to you, where you will be next year, what kind of people will surround you, what kind of house you'll be living in, it's easy to imagine that anything is possible. Sure, it's possible that Freya will go to Stearn's in two years, but it's just as possible that she'll be in some school in Ohio that we've never heard of. Sure, it's possible that I'll get into Cornell, but it's just as possible that Nebraska will offer me a great assistantship and we'll pack it all up and head west.

The range of potential futures that confront me now are both freeing and frightening. I'm a planner, I like to know things. With a future so packed with individual paths, it has become impossible to see very far down any one of them. The only way for me to make sense of this is to convince myself not to care too much about any one outcome. I'm not used to - or very good at - taking things as they come, but it's actually pretty exhilarating.


Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Hey Nell...those paths that you CAN see down...completely boring.

I think that's why I had Payton...to realize those unknown paths are the best ones really.

jennifer said...

I think that you are quite brave to have started this journey. I'm a planner, too, and I'm not sure if I'd have the nerve to do something like this for myself.

Can't wait to hear what happens.

Groovy Mom said...

Oh yeah, I like to know what's coming down the road too. Being in limbo is hard.

I like your header. I'm not going to tell you how long I tried to scroll up so I could see the woman's face. :-)

Anonymous said...

I second Jennifer's comment - you are brave. I hope the limbo ends soon.


Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

OH, it does sound exciting! We were in that position a few years back when hubby got out of the Army...we could go anywhere! But now I'm glad to be in the settled-in phase for a while. Good luck with all your options and have fun!