Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Crisis of Place

Yesterday I was driving home from taking Gabby to dance. It was a nice sunny day, and I had the two little kids in the car. We were listening to Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (the song, fittingly, was Wasteland) and talking about Sam's new chapter-book obsession. All of a sudden, a huge white truck with Texas plates pulled right up behind me and started flashing its lights. I was in the right lane, but I couldn't get over, and I was going a pretty good clip (probably 10 miles over the speed limit...shhh! don't tell Matt!). I sped up a bit, and ended up passing the car beside of me so that I could get in the left lane. When I did, the truck pulled beside of me and lingered there. I barely looked out of the corner of my eye and saw a guy giving me a certain hand gesture that involves two fingers and a tongue. If you don't readily know what I'm talking about, don't try to imagine. And of course, Sam looked too and then asked me about it. Of course. And the thing that sucks is that when I was describing to him the fact that people who aren't very smart do things to make other people feel bad and that it was really nothing, I couldn't use the words "flaming douchenozzle."

There is a massive coal-operated power plant being built within close proximity to my home, and because of that there is a huge influx of contractors from other states who have come here to construct it. I'll just come out and say that I am not in favor of the power plant, but hey, you probably suspected that since I spend my evenings washing and folding my cloth diapers and making fun refrigerator signs to encourage my family not to use an excessive number of paper towels. I am also not in favor of it because I am not a big fan of these contractors. This is not a dig against all contractors, but rather, against these particular ones, and I don't care if your uncle is a contractor at this power plant and he is an awesome guy. Whatever. Every one that I've seen has been a GIANT DOUCHE, including the ones who got drunk and puked in the bushes at their Christmas party, which was in the building where I work (I should also note that several of the wives reportedly got into a fist fight OVER PICTURES). Going to the grocery store around quitting time has especially become a challenge. Especially while wearing yoga pants. I won't get into that in any detail, but I will say that I do avoid the store now at any point after 5:00. In my own town. Which makes living here just that much AWESOMER.

Matt and I are not people to settle down, as I think I've gone into on here before. Imagining living in one place for the rest of my life makes me inordinately frightened. And we especially don't want to settle down here. We both grew up here, and really only came back for a little respite and to save some money for the next adventure. And its funny. In the past year, things have gotten better for us. Our jobs are more stable, our kids are happy, our families have helped us with baby-sitting and house stuff, and life has generally been easy and nice. For all practical purposes, we should be considering making a go of it here, at least putting off things until the kids are older.

But we're getting itchy. Really, really itchy. And we're starting to grasp at things. Matt has started looking at going back to get his Ph.D. At first, I really didn't want that yet. I was not ready to jump back into that lifestyle, to go back to what we had going in Berkeley. Then he mentioned moving to Maryland, and I thought, "Well, ok." And then he said Bloomington, IN, and I said that I didn't want to live somewhere that was not on a coast. But then, yesterday, I drove home angry about that certain gesture and about the myriad toxins that will soon be exploding into the air around my house when that plant gets completed, and I thought, "Fuck. Let's move to Bloomington."

And a big part of me knows that this is incredibly selfish of us. Our families love having us close. Hell, our kids love it here. But then I think of all the things that they miss out on that they could be enjoying--a better education, more activities, closer cultural activities, more ethnic foods to enjoy (that are not poorly reimagined in my kitchen), and I think that if anything, we have to get out of here for them. They don't understand this--they just want to stay in their rooms with their friends forever. But someday they will, and I don't want them to feel like we could have given them something better and just didn't.

The bad thing is, the longer we let it go, the more at risk we are for just picking up and doing something really irresponsible. So I am trying to be sane about it. But a big part of me wants to place a bunch of ads on Craigslist, pack my kids into the car, and take off.

I look at my life now, and it is nothing like I thought it would be. Which is probably a good thing, given that I figured I would be living in some hellhole in New York right now, surviving on a diet of coffee, sex, and the written word, newspapers insulating my walls to keep out the cold. But here I sit, and I don't know what I want to do next. On one hand this is exhilerating. I could do anything! I could go anywhere! On the other, it is damn scary. And when I look at little Alice's cherubic face and think that the poor thing has to deal with my decisions for at least the next 17 years, it gets even scarier. Like Michael Myers behind the curtain with a big knife scary.

This is a very bad post, in which I've probably managed to piss off a few contractors and lord knows that if anyone who lives in my area ever finds this, I'm going to get a huge missive on here about how great the power plant is and all the jobs and what the fuck is my problem. And I get it. It is a thorny issue, one that I'm not equipped to fully elucidate or even really discuss. But I'm here, sitting at my desk, and I'm frightened to tell you the truth, and well, you know. I'll shut up now.

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