Be Careful What You Wish For

April 20, 2004

Since I lost my job in March I have been wishing for a new one. I have been dreaming of new possibilities and opportunities. Michele, too, has been exploring her profession's landscape looking for a chance to utilize her education and experience.

Nothing is certain yet, but we both have some movement towards new work engagements. Hers is perfect for her at first glance, and we have spent an agonizing week waiting to see if there will be a second glance opportunity. In the eight years we've been together she has left behind or given up job opportunities four times as my career, and my choices, have taken us across the country and back again. It feels right to allow her career to dictate our move this time.

After weeks of little or no feedback to my resume campaign I am finally starting to hear from recruiters and hiring managers. I, too, appear at first glance to have an opportunity in the same geographic area as Michele. This is a good thing. Nothing definite mind you, just a skills survey that was well received and an indication of a phone call to come.

A new geographic location means selling our house, and as luck would have it a potential buyer stumbled on to our property over the weekend and fell in love with it. All of the pieces are coming together.

At least all of the physical world pieces. Emotionally I think we are both still torn about all the changes this move will mean for us. I know I am struggling with once again moving away from my family. The thought of another move, one that will take us away from a house we love and our cherished pool, is a painful one for both of us. We balance the thought of leaving here against the thought of moving to a place where Michele can exercise her career to its fullest. If we could stay here we wouldn't have to give up our home, but it might mean Michele giving up her career once again.

Of course staying means finding employment here. Oddly enough an opportunity has presented itself that would more than match my prior income, right here were we live now. This would mean no move, no loss of family connection, no leaving behind the house and pool. It would also mean that I would have to find a way to live with the idea that she has given something up for me. She would tell you that being with me is the most important thing in her life, that the job doesn't matter. But I would have to find a way to frame our staying here so I didn't feel guilty about closing a door on her career just for me.

In the end I think our choice will come down to intangibles, emotions and feelings. Physically we've been through cross-country moves before. We understand the trauma and toll it will take on our bodies and emotions. Somehow we will have to weight the unknown benefits and costs of the new location and careers against the known advantages and short comings of staying here.

The choice may eventually be made for us. None of the remote potential employment options is in any way guaranteed. The buyer for our house hasn't come forth with earnest money or proof of an ability to purchase it. The contract option here may not happen, and if it does is only for 2 months initially, with a chance at new 12-month contract to follow.

Beginning nearly five weeks ago we started wishing for options to get us out of this situation. We did all the gut wrenching emotional work to come to terms with what had happened and what it might mean for the future. We prepared ourselves for any eventuality. We have worked extremely hard to keep doors open as long as possible; now the time when we'll have to make choices that will close some of those doors is approaching.

Now we face the challenge of balancing our desires and wishes for a life together against the intrusions of careers and obligations. We appear to have before us options that match all of our wishes: the ability to move on and the ability to stay. The promise of new employment opportunities and the continuation of our life as it was before. Be careful what you wish for, for you will surely get it.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.