Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One Year Ago Today

Things were finally settling down a bit. We'd nearly survived the first year with twins. (And, as I kept telling them, they should have already been one! Someday I will forgive them for making their due date.) They were starting to utter their first words and thinking about taking their first steps.

I was making plans to start some simple schoolwork with D1 and enjoying living in a house that was finally painted and arranged the way I wanted it. Well, mostly. DOB was grateful to have a steady job with people he liked being around. We'd just taken D1 out on a birthday trip and she'd vowed she wanted to do the exact same thing next year. We spent a lot of time at our neighborhood park. We'd finally gotten the lawn mowed and ordered a reel mower so I could keep up with it myself.

And then the next evening, DOB came home and asked if I'd like to go out to dinner. Cicero was there to watch the kids, supper was long since fixed (I'd learned very early on that we wouldn't eat unless I did all the cooking as early in the day as possible). After a day like every day, who would say no?

We went to our favorite sandwich shop and he asked, "What do you think of moving to Washington?"

What did I think? I couldn't think of that--I'd never allowed myself to think of it.

By the end of the evening we'd decided to move sometime in the next year; by the end of the week we'd decided to leave that fall. It was impossible and absurd and imprudent, but having thought of it we had to try.

We fixed up our house, and sold it. DOB gave notice at his work, and found a replacement. We got rained on, learned to do things we couldn't do, and accomplished the impossible task of showing a house in immaculate condition while living in it with four preschoolers.

One day, the time had come, and we packed up the last of what was left and headed west. Our trip out felt like an epic adventure. We were free of everything, committed to nothing yet, following the pioneers only with better plumbing. We drove as far as we wanted to, stopped when we felt like it, and saw the country one mile at a time.

Then, we got here. After a few weeks of settling in and networking, all that energy we'd had for moving and adventuring came to a crashing end. We slept for ten or more hours every night and barely dragged ourselves through the day. We came down with one sickness after another. Our idea that we might find work while waiting for the bar exam turned out to be wrong; not that either of us had energy to work anyway.

There was nothing to do but wait. Wait and try not to think about the fact that we were unemployed and living in our parents' basement, which is not where anyone wants to be at thirty.* Especially not with four kids.

Then came a rush of studying for the bar exam, the thrill of DOB actually *taking* the bar exam and then . . . more waiting. Winter ended and spring began and it rained a lot and we stepped on each other's toes and the children screamed pretty often and there was nothing to do and nowhere to go and the bills kept adding up and we had probably done something incredibly stupid, but it didn't bear thinking about now.

And then . . . things began to pick up, a little. In one networking meeting in November we'd met with a Seattle attorney who knew a half-dozen lawyers in our area. We'd met with several of them before we collapsed in December. One of them, in the nicest possible way, ripped our presentation to shreds and made us rethink everything we were looking for and everything about how we were presenting ourselves. One of them was congenial but didn't know of anything.

In March, the latter one called me up and asked if I'd like to do a free-lance research project. In April, the former one looked at DOB's many-times-revised resume and said he'd finally got it and he should talk to X firm as they always had more work than they could handle. When DOB finally managed to speak to someone there, they gave him a contract project--and then another, and another. And finally the results from the bar came in, and DOB could be a real lawyer in the state he lived in for the first time.

Through all this, DOB's knee had been acting up due to the driving position of a minivan, but he'd tried to tough it out before spending money on a second car. The day after he got sworn in, a week after he'd started working on a contract basis, the strain in his knee became too much and he broke his foot. His good foot, which meant a wheelchair and therapy and no driving at all.

Somehow he kept working and we kept going even though it all felt like a cruel joke at times. Earlier this month, after sufficiently demonstrating his skill at negotiating for other people, he negotiated himself a full-time position. I got a second research project, and it may work into something intermittent but regular that I can do from home.

In short, we did it. We moved, we changed careers, we're going to settle where we've always wanted to live. DOB loves negotiating and advocating and I love researching and am starting to get back in touch with the self I left behind in Washington without losing the people I love. Our children are best friends with their cousins and have the run of the farm where I grew up. We are back on track towards being able to pay our own way.

There's still a long way to go. It still looks like it will be awhile before we have a home of our own again. DOB is starting over from the beginning in a difficult career, and the learning curve is steep. Health issues still crop up periodically and caring for four only-slightly-older children is still exhausting. In some ways it seems like we traded a lot of work for an overwhelming amount of work. We've asked a lot from those around us and we wish we had more to give back.

But we're very thankful for where we have been, for what we have been able to do, for where we are now, and for where we can go next.

*Not that the basement isn't a very nice place, in fact larger and airier than either of our apartments. And with much better grounds. The difficulties were psychological rather than physical.


Carrie said...

Wow! A year already, huh? Time flies when you are...er...having so much fun!

Silvia said...

Wow, sometimes life it's like a whirlwind...
Thanks for your comment, I totally loved what you wrote in the reply to the original question to the AO group.
I'm glad I found your blog too!

EB said...

Ditto what Carrie said - it's already been a year?? Just reading that review is exhausting - how on earth did you ever do it.

And how on earth would you have ever NOT done it?

Congratulations again - and I'm thrilled to be able to have a peephole into your adventures!

awedmanor said...

Less than a year has gone by since you all left beautiful Ohio for the great unknown of the Northwest? In some ways it feels like forever ago - and in other ways it was the day before yesterday.

I hadn't internalized the timeframe of the post, and when I read that Cicero was babysitting, I thought "No fair! She is out there and we haven't seen you for --" and then the timeline fit into place, and I knew we had seen you since that day.

Congratulations on knowing what you want, and acting on it. We miss you terribly. Driving by the old house just isn't the same - no life, no joy, no chaos.

We're still very happy for you, and look forward to revisiting the chaos first-hand.