After I got home today, I did manage to schedule a survey of my apartment for next week with a moving company, which is very exciting. One little bit closer to being back with D! The person doing the assessment will be here Wednesday morning to see what I've got at my place and to run some estimates on the cost -- with or without packing services, with or without shipping my car, etc. The ballpark quote the company gave me isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and if I can save money by packing things myself (all but the really fragile stuff), that will be good. I don't mind that part; I just hate the heavy lifting.
I think we've decided that I won't be driving the car back unless I can find someone to do it with me. It's very tempting to go it alone anyway, though. There's something attractively symbolic about the idea of that journey back to Seattle through the mountains and across the Continental Divide. The picture I've had of this homecoming for the last year and a half is an earthbound one, an arrival that allows me to pass beneath the sentinel gaze of the Cascades -- not the airport's TSA. The image at left is one that D took about 80 miles east of home as the crow flies (it's more like 120 miles by highway). How lovely a welcome that would be, to be shepherded home in the end by the firs I've missed. As much as I've enjoyed seeing Seattle from the window of a plane, I'm not especially taken with the idea of a reunion at Sea-Tac. It feels too transient: everyone there is going somewhere else and the jets momentarily on the tarmac are really denizens of the air. The trees, though, are rooted -- willingly.
D and I have had what feels like too many years of wandering from one corner of the U.S. to another, with career shifts to match. I'm ready for an end to that, especially when it comes to choosing a profession to stick with for more than 24 months. At the same time, I think the work it took to get us to where we are is important, and I don't want to negate that. I'd probably be much less certain about my job interests without having had the graduate school experience and the chance to take another crack at teaching. The first attempt (seventh graders in the Bronx) was a near disaster, and I ran away into editing (at a newspaper in Texas) but didn't feel challenged enough. So here I am.
I had to read Mary Catherine Bateson's Peripheral Visions for one of my classes this semester, and there's a really great passage in it that addresses the idea of indirect and broken trajectories. I'll end with it here, just because it makes these last few years feel like they've had purpose, even if they've been hard.
In my recent work on the ways women combine commitments to career and family, I have been struck by how commonly women zigzag from stage to stage without a long-term plan, improvising along the way, building the future from "something old and something new." For men and women, résumés full of change show resiliency and creativity, the strength to welcome new learning, yet personnel directors often discriminate against anyone whose résumé does not show a clear progression. Quite a common question in job interviews is "What do you want to be doing in five years?" "Something I cannot now imagine" is not yet a winning answer. Accepting that logic, young people worry about getting "on track," yet their years of experimentation and short-term jobs are becoming longer. If only to offer an alternative, we need to tell the other stories, the stories of shifting identities and interrupted paths, and to celebrate the triumphs of adaptation.