Today, I met with one of my co-workers for lunch and among other things, we discussed what seems to be my very uncertain future. As I was replaying to my co-worker the choices that I currently have before me - and the stress that they are causing - he told me that he once read a book about choices. The premise was that people are happier when they have choices. But in reality, people are usually paralyzed by indecision when too many choices are before them.
For instance, my co-worker recently planned a trip to the Caribbean. To get there, he needed to fly from San Diego to Miami for his connecting flight. And while he was filled with such excitement about planning this exotic vacation, once he went on line and started to book his tickets, he was overcome with dread.
Options upon options were available for flight times; connecting cities; arrivals, departures and ground transportation. There were hotel options. Did he want an efficiency or a suite? Did he want a room facing the lagoon or ocean? Would he like an upgrade or a package deal? And then, once he finally made his choices, he agonized over whether his decisions were good enough.
Here's a little known fact about me: When I go out to a new restaurant, I frequently wait until everyone has ordered because I want to see what they select and why. And maybe what they ordered will be better than what I was thinking of ordering. If I've eaten there before, I will order the same exact thing. Because I am a fierce creature of habit.
Along that same vein, at all costs, I will avoid eating at The Cheesecake Factory because I cannot stand the menu. From what I recall, there is at least one full page dedicated to various salads. Several pages to pasta and the dessert menu is the volume of a telephone book for a small town.
The BEST restaurant I ever ate at, was a small Italian number in the North End of Boston. You just walk in and sit down and they serve you whatever it was that they cooked that day. There were NO choices except whether you wanted to eat there, or not.
Even the most simple things can be complicated by choices. What kind of ice cream would you like? Do you want hot fudge? Whipped cream or marshmallow? Nuts? Peanuts, Walnuts or Pecans? One cherry or two?
Will that be for here or to go?
For as long as we have been a couple, Charlie and I have said that we would like to live closer to family. But seeing as we live in Southern California and we have family in Northern California, Massachusetts and South Carolina - where do we go? Effectively, our choice is any corner of the continental United States. Awesome!!
Add to all that, this year, I am more aware of the passage of time than I ever have been in my entire life. Which means, I feel this invisible pressure to make a choice.
In two months time, I have watched two people that I care about lose their battles to cancer. My babies turn five-years-old in less than a week. Kindergarten is looming on the horizon. Do I send them? Do I keep them home? If I send them, what school will they attend? If we move what school will they attend? Is it as nice as the school just down the street from our house?
I returned to work full time. My husband has been laid off and started his own company. I have been presented with several opportunities to move. To sell our house. To start a new life in a new area - none of which are closer to family. Of course my immediate family is the most important family in my life, but it certainly would be nice to be closer to our extended family.
Currently, the choice is stay in San Diego and continue working and Charlie can establish his company. But the most immediate problem, in my opinion, is that the kids suffer if we are both distracted with work. So while I want to be supportive of my husband in his new endeavor, sometimes when I reach for the words, "I'm proud and support you!" the words that I find are, "What the $%*@ were you thinking? Are you out of your $%*@ing mind starting a COMPANY when we have small children at home?!"
I could quit and Charlie could go full force. But seeing as he doesn't have the revenue stream to support our family - nor any benefits - I believe that would be a bad choice. And if he were to start over with a new company, the income would be less than what I am making now.
We could take the job that was just offered to me and move our family to Los Angeles. But I'd be in an office five days a week. And considering the next home that we buy is hopefully, the home where we will raise our children, I can't rightly say that I'm too pumped about living in LA for the next 20 years. (Sincere apologies to my peeps north on the 5.)
We could sell off everything and move, without jobs, to be closer to family. Or, we could liquidate our 401Ks and travel around the county in an RV while live blogging the whole way. At the moment, we're seriously considering both of these scenarios because we are out of our noggins and on our second glasses of wine.
If I didn't have an amazing education. If I didn't have an amazing career. If I didn't have an amazing husband (who also has an amazing education). If I didn't have amazing children. If I didn't have an amazing family that lives too far away. If I didn't live in an amazing neighborhood with an amazing church and an amazing network of friends. If I didn't have an amazing little house that has lost an even more amazing amount of equity. If I didn't have this incredibly amazing life, the choices that I make - or don't make - would be SO much easier.
In reality, I don't have any problems at all whatsoever.
I'm the luckiest person alive.
I just have absolutely no idea which side is up.