Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The vise

I have been uncharacteristically worried lately about the state of things in our life (and that's saying something).  L and I have had some big talks about our family, our careers, our home, and our finances, trying to find the best way to manage everything in a sustainable way, a way that will keep us on a good path to prosperity.  In some ways I feel like the same few questions are constantly swirling around us, and each passing day pushes us towards an answer.  Can we stay in New York?  Can we stay where we are?  Does our life require changes, large or small?  (The questions are more specific in my mind, of course, but they thunder down to the same basic propositions.)  I worry about making a choice.  I worry about not making a choice -- that our inaction will lead us to an answer in itself, an answer we may not want. 

Sometimes I wonder if we are somehow being selfish, living in Manhattan and raising a family here.  Is it stupid to try to do this?  Does it matter that we still live in New York, since we are not exactly regulars on Broadway or at the museums?  Are we trying to accomplish something best left to the financiers and their dowager mothers-in-law?  Perhaps worse: are we the last ones left at the party, still toughing it out in Manhattan while so many of our friends have cycled in and out of the city?  And yet so much of our life is grounded in the structures of urban living -- walking to playgrounds, enjoying the parks, living in a certain kind of community.  I fear that if we lived someplace surburban, we would enjoy the luxuries of the 'burbs for a few months until we woke up in horror one day, realizing: I am bored.  And then it would spiral downwards, Revolutionary Road-style.  (Not to say that city life is inherently better or more exciting; just that it has clearly become our preference.) 

If I think about these questions hard enough, it feels like the floor gives way under my feet, and all of the structures we have created to organize our life - the jobs, the childcare, the commute, the apartment, the friendships - are ripped to shreds in a single thoughtless moment, and the stark precarious nature of this balance emerges.  Yet does life ever become more solid than this?  What exactly could I expect someplace else?

I hit the point a few days ago where I just grew weary of worrying.  We had a good talk with my folks about things, and I feel like we're doing the best we can.  We are not sitting back passively and letting the circumstances of life dictate our fates; we are doing everything we can to best protect and support our lives.  Beyond that I don't know what else can be done, besides work on my patience and serenity.  Like I was saying to L tonight:  I'm worried something will happen.  And I'm also worried something won't.

At some point, I have to take a breath and just stop worrying.

Photo: my favorite monkey at the Manhattan Children's Museum.

1 comment:

SMS said...

I read this right before we left for the beach this weekend and it was such a relief to be reminded that we aren't the only ones who suffer from this cyclical thinking. As always you have said it much better than I could ... we think these thoughts constantly and did when we were in NYC before kids too. I am pretty sure that life (God :) leads you to where you should be and you just have to go with it. Accept the gifts that come to you with grace and weather the challenges. You will know beyond the shadow of a doubt when it is time to make a change.. any change. Just like you know L was the one for you .. and you knew it was time for A to join your family. That's how we feel about it down here anyway.