One of the positive things about extended families (or at least my extended family) is the way they keep your perspective from being too limited. I feel like things have been a bit mad around my domain in the past few months (my daughter was born, my job changed locations, we traveled a bit) and while I’m not ready to back entirely away from that claim, over the past few days I’ve been realizing that “a bit mad” is still significantly calmer than “totally bonkers”.
I mentioned that my Little Bro was coming to visit, and so he did, as he and his wife arrived Friday afternoon and departed midday Sunday. Little Bro recently decided not only to quit his day job but to basically abandon the career path he had been trying to get a foothold in for five or so years. My brother was a captain in the Army when he parted ways with the military life and felt that as a former mid-level officer he would be well-suited to middle management white collar type gigs. I always thought that was reasonable, but it proved more difficult than I would have expected, and certainly wasn’t helped by the slackening economy. So Little Bro ended up at a non-management desk job that was sucking his will to live, but no more! He studied up and took a test to be certified as a personal trainer and is about to try his hand at that. He had previously told me about this plan but I had initially interpreted “work as a personal trainer” as having “at a gym or health club” somewhere in the mix. However, over this past weekend he explained to me that he’d much rather simply work for himself, finding clients via referrals and whatnot and going to people’s houses to create custom workouts for them or whatever. Now that I know that, I fervently hope that it all works out for him. The thought of going into business for myself is terrifying, which I suppose is why I’ve never done it. But my Little Bro certainly inspires me to believe he can make a go of it. The upshot is that it’s a significantly more seismic change on the work front than a minor adjustment to the weekday commute.
Meanwhile, my mother flew into town on Saturday afternoon and we were still in the car on the way back from the airport when she informed Little Bro and me that she and my step-father are planning to move from New Mexico back east before the end of this year. On the one hand I saw this coming, as my wife and I had a conversation earlier this month about how we were looking forward to my mother’s visit but sorry that we didn’t get to see her more often, which is what happens when people live 2000 miles apart. My mom and step-father moved to the Albuquerque area when its real estate market was hot and they were planning on flipping houses to make their retirement income. Then the market crashed and now my mom works at a bank and her husband works in the auto department at Wal-Mart, neither of which is quite so setting-dependent. When my wife and I talked about it, I had wondered and speculated about how long it would take for the whole missing-her-children thing and the obviated need to stay out west to combine into an irresistible force pulling my mother back to this side of the country. But I hadn’t expected it to happen so soon, nor had I expected the plan to include my mom and step-father selling most of their possessions (except the house, which they’ll have to rent out) to make the packing and moving as minimal as possible. Or for them to be within driving distance by Christmas. I’m not complaining at all, I rush to underline. But it is an ambitious timetable for them by any measure.
And then today – perhaps even right now as I type this! – my Very Little Bro and his girlfriend will be arriving at my house. VLB recently realized that although it was fun moving out to California after he graduated college last spring, he hasn’t had much luck finding gigs in his chosen line of work and emphatically cannot afford to live out there on his own. His former roommates are no longer potential future roommates (because they are a couple about to get hitched) and thus, underemployed and rapidly approaching homelessness, my brother decided to quit his barely-pay-the-bills job, pack up all of his things, and come back east as well, where he’s going to crash with our dad until he can find a new job and save up enough for his own place. So this week has been a cross-country roadtrip for him, from San Diego to Albuquerque to Oklahoma City to Nashville and then Virginia before finishing up in Connecticut. Oh, and he’s undertaken this odyssey with his girlfriend (who had been prepping to move out to California with him back when my very little Brother assumed he’d get a better job in SoCal sooner or later) and … I don’t want to jump to any conclusions or put words in anyone’s mouth, but if cohabitation can be seen as a trial-run to clarify one’s thinking about the possibilities of marriage, then maybe it’s fair to say a cross-country roadtrip can be seen as a trial-run to clarify one’s thinking about the possibilities of cohabitation. Maybe.
So yeah, seems like just about everybody in my family is in the process of changing jobs or radically reinventing careers, relocating, and who knows what else. Maybe comparing any or all of that to the disruptive powers of a newborn (or a toddler, or both) is well within apples-and-oranges territory, but if nothing else I know that right now I am thankful for my own relative stability. I’m not planning on changing jobs any time soon, my wife and I are in agreement that we’re never moving again (which is a significantly more serious invocation of “never” than our current ban on commercial air travel) and pretty much all of the irregularities in our daily lives are essentially temporary. My wife even managed to make it back to her own place of employment today without feeling too much like the world was tilting at crazy funhouse angles under her feet; it was just time for maternity leave to be over, wish it weren’t so or otherwise. Now if we can just get through having to pay for double daycare without selling all of our own worldly possessions, we’ll be in good shape.