The Plan

Feb. 5th, 2014 07:46 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] liv
One of the things I've been bursting to talk about, but got queued behind the January journal stuff, is that I'm in the process of some serious life rearranging.

I know I've mentioned this to some people I've seen in person, but I want to put it here. In brief, I'm planning to move to Cambridge to live with [personal profile] jack, while continuing to work here in Stoke. This is going to take some doing, but I think it will make my life happier in the long term.

For the past 4½ years, I've been living 150 miles away from my partner (now husband). We see eachother a couple of weekends a month, and that part is actually surprisingly fine. It's interesting when I chat about this relationship situation at work; basically my fellow academics think it's perfectly reasonable and share their own stories of phases in their lives when they lived a couple of hundred miles (or even more) from their partners, but all the non-academic support staff think it's shocking and horrible that we should be married but living apart.

Still, some time last summer I began thinking, maybe there's another way. Several colleagues have been in the situation recently where their partner has got a job in a distant city and they've wanted to continue in their university posts. So they've sold their marital homes and moved into flats on campus, and bought somewhere as a permanent place with their partners in Brighton or Northern Ireland or York or wherever. Initially I thought, that's a cool idea but it's not for me; for a start, [personal profile] jack and I have never lived together, so it's not a matter of having to give that up because of a job move. But the more I thought about it the more I thought, actually this could work.

It is partly that I would like to spend more time with [personal profile] jack, and particularly I'd like to go home to him rather than always feeling like a visitor. But a lot of the reasoning is that I've never really found a social group here. After over four years of every few months saying, I should make more effort to find local friends, I have to admit it's not going to happen. I have some work colleagues I get on well with (interestingly several of the people I'm closest to are actually Cambridge-based to some extent themselves). I have the Jewish community, most of whom I'm very fond of. But neither group is really a good source of friends, whether it's people to have a night out with or people who know my deepest secrets. I keep meaning to, but never actually do, invite people over to my place. I think I had all of two weekends at home in 2013.

In Cambridge I feel very much part of [personal profile] jack's circle. I am frustrated that I can't really make social plans with people because I'm always saying, it depends whether I'm in Cambridge. In the new plan, I'm going to assume I spend weekends in Cambridge by default, and when it works with teaching, sometimes take a couple of days at the beginning of the week working from home so I can stay for longer than just a weekend. We're starting to organize so that I have my things in Cambridge, clothes, books, duplicating some items like a laptop, a hairbrush etc – [personal profile] jack gave me a nice Mason-Pearson hairbrush for my birthday, which is wonderful because it's symbolic of moving closer to living "together".

So I've taken a campus, with the lease starting next week. I'm still in the process of sorting out the actual move. There's going to be some fairly serious down-sizing involved, since I'm moving from a three-bed semi to a small one bedroom flat plus half of the house or flat that [personal profile] jack and I eventually manage to buy. We made a start on the decluttering at the weekend, including throwing away quite a lot of paper that I've been hoarding for a decade plus and never really looked at. Notes from really exciting Jewish study events, and 12 thick folders of handwritten notes from my undergraduate course were hard to part with, but I had to convince myself that the emotional benefit of knowing they're there even though I never look at them is not worth the effort of storing them.

I am unquestionably going to miss this house, because it's really lovely, and I have enjoyed being settled in one place for four years, something I'd never really experienced since my teens. But it is kind of too big for me. There's a garden that could potentially be lovely but it's mainly a burden of guilt to me because I feel like gardening about three or four times a year, nothing like enough to actually keep up a garden. There's two rooms I rarely use at all, and both are increasingly filling up with boxes and kibble. And I barely keep on top of the cleaning and anything beyond the most urgent maintenance, which is partly a consequence of being out of town basically every weekend. I am also going to miss being able to host people, because the one time it is useful to have a house this big for one person is when people come to visit. The truth is that hosting is mostly a theoretical possibility, though; I am hoping that most people who want to see me will be equally happy to visit our (eventual) joint home in Cambridge.

I have to say that I've found this a really really hard decision. I have been trying to prioritize my long-term benefit over the short term extreme pain of making multiple house moves, and of selling and buying houses and dealing with the horror that is the Cambridge housing bubble. I've also tried to figure out what I personally want from my lifestyle, over what people like me are expected to want or what I think I ought to want. But the problem is that I don't really know for sure that I will be happier making my life in Cambridge with [personal profile] jack, and it's a heck of an expensive (though I suppose theoretically not actually impossible) decision to reverse. I'm pretty happy with my life now; it feels not entirely rational to be going to a massive amount of effort and upheaval to transform it into a slightly different life.

Anyway, that's going to be eating up a lot of my time and energy and money for at least the next few weeks, and probably a good proportion of the next several months too. Knowing me I 'spect I'll whine about the annoying bits on DW, though I will try to temper that by reminding myself that it's a very, very fortunate problem to have, juggling things around so that I can have even more benefit from a good job and a strong marriage and owning my own home.

In other transforming my life news, I've just ordered some new glasses. I only did this because my old glasses have broken, but bowing to the inevitable, I'm going to change my image a bit. Having to go back to my old glasses while my recent ones are broken, I've realized that round glasses suit me a lot better than any other shape. Unfortunately round glasses are not at all in fashion at the moment, so I had very little choice of anything like the sort of glasses I had in mind. The saleslady had no hesitation at all in guiding me to the section labelled "for him" because she thought that the kind of glasses I want were more likely to be marketed to men than women. So I've got a pair of slightly hipsterish, androgynous round glasses with thin but not ultra-thin black frames. And since glasses are two pairs for the price of one, I chose something much more striking than I've ever dared wear for my second pair, top-heavy ones with thickish, shaped brown tops and a thin rim round the base of the lens. (Neither style seems to be listed online, so I can't show you.) It's going to take me a while to get used to my new face, let alone anyone else!
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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