Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tough choices ahead

Had a talk last night with the Rocket Scientist. She iterated for the first time a strong aversion to moving, yet again, at least for anything less than a tenure-track job for me. She said, you know we've lived in 9 places in the past 10 years. Yeah. This from someone who has described herself as a wanderer, a traveller. But I guess we all wish to set down roots eventually.

If I calculate it out, I've moved at least 28 different times in my 38 years. The longest I've ever spent anywhere was seven years, beginning when I was 4. That means, I've moved at least 26 times in the past 26 years! Odd, since someplaces I've lived for more than a year, even two or three. But there were temporary housing options at times, a move away to high school (a boarding school, military academy), then back, a trip overseas, then back. Twenty-six moves, twenty-six years.

Yes, I'm tired of it, but not so much that I am ready to give up my career. But nor do I wish to give up my family! I continue to point out how lucky others are that they have a tenure-track gig, and I don't. To be fair, I'm very lucky that I have a wonderful family: a loving, supportive wife, and two charming, delightful children. Does it make me a better person than those who are single or divorced? Surely, not. There but by the grace of God go I, eh? Perspective. Priorities. Hard to keep them both in mind.

My wife's present stance sets some severe limits on my current career choices, or dampens my ability to be an active partner and father, at least for a time. Tough decisions. I fear if I don't get something for next year, the result will be a black mark on my resume, perhaps an unrecoverable stigma. My wife claimed to be confused: just last week you said you could be happy with a different sort of career. Not exactly fair of her. Not exactly the time yet for those considerations. Besides, I haven't the slightest idea where to begin. At this point, if I scrap the academic career, I fear I will be always disappointed, discouraged, diminished. I'll continue to think about alternatives, look for ways to engage myself in meaningful work outside academia. But the ship isn't sinking yet, the life rafts are yet to be inflated.


BrightStar said...

I think it's fantastic that you have a great marriage and lovely children. However... this all sounds complicated and hard. Even with my shorter term long distance relationship, I can begin to understand the challenges this brings for you. I hope things seem clearer for you and your family in the future.

ArticulateDad said...

They will, I know they will. Gotta have faith, eh? Thanks for your thoughts.