building a case, or, busses and bathwater.

Last week, Marcus and I talked about the irritations of our respective houses. Though we live an hour apart, we’re both stuck in a one-pub village, reliant on public transit that stops operating sometime between dinner and dessert, living in houses bustling with people.

Marcus’s roommates are friendly and intelligent, my boss is kind and interesting- as housemates, they couldn’t get much better. But it’s not easy to live with one’s boss, in a small room down the hall from three little kids, unable to have guests over. All I’ll say about Marcus’s dilemmas is that his house could be used by a museum as an Experience Life in 1836! holiday destination.

Our conversation evolved over two or three visits, as we became aware of not only how individually limited we are by where we live, but how much it affects our time together. I find out my bus don’t run on Sundays, he looks into buying a car to drive me home at the end of our weekends together. I earn so little, he has to contribute to my burger-and-beer fund on nights out. I take up space on the single bed he’d ordinarily fill, he inflates a queen size bed each weekend and deflates it when I go. For my part, I take a bus and two trains to reach his house, spend a third of my meager income on that transportation alone, live out of a handbag, in a house considerably less comfortable than mine. We do these things just to spend two days together.

He asked me if I’d thought about getting a nanny job in Exeter. I asked him if he’d consider us living together, if I did.

“Yes” was our answer, and for the past week I’ve wondered how to get myself up there. Admittedly, I don’t relish the thought of moving for the sixth time this year or changing jobs for the fourth. The kids and I have hit our stride. They know I mean it if I say, “Please come here right now,” and they know how to make me smile, make me listen, make me care. I’m supposed to leave the country, briefly or permanently, in February. Family issues take attention and time. I have a novel to finish. Wouldn’t it be more logical and energy-efficient, I ask myself as I wipe pudding off an upturned face, If I stayed here for the full six months? The situation is not bad, it’s just imperfect.

Those six moves and four jobs, and every major life change I can remember prior to that, happened because each situation was bad. Work days I could hardly wade through, nights I cried through, crazy bosses, redneck towns, creative frustration, social angst. My usual solution was to chuck the job or apartment or social circle and find something different. It was always easy to build a case against the known present in favor of an unknown future. This time, busses and bathwater do not strike me as a case.

But if I stay here, I won’t find out what it’s like to wake up each morning with Marcus. I could wait a few months to find out, but why would I? The present may not be bad. But the future looks good.

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