half and half

by rantywoman

I just turned down another job offer from my former employer this past week. It was an agonizing decision, as I was sorely tempted, after having had some time off, to get another paycheck rolling in as well as benefits. But I would have had to move to another part of town, giving up the things I do enjoy here, and the hours of the position would have been extremely difficult for me to handle. I would have had to commit to the job for several years, thus continuing to move in a direction I don’t think I want to be moving in.

Half my friends advised me to stick to my original vision; the other half advised me to take the job. Ultimately it brought up, and came down to, questions of values. I’ve been reading I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron and related quite strongly to this passage on p. 132:

Here are some questions I am constantly noodling over: Do you splurge or do you hoard? Do you live every day as if it’s your last, or do you save your money on the chance you’ll live twenty more years? Is life too short, or is it going to be too long? Do you work as hard as you can, or do you slow down to smell the roses? And where do carbohydrates fit into all this?

In the past, I would have totally taken the job; I would have gone for the large paycheck. But as they say, insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I’ve been mostly practical for twenty years, and in that time, I lost my fertility (assuming I had it in the first place) and watched jealously as other people followed wild and impractical dreams. One friend of mine spent the past five years working on a novel and just recently re-entered the workforce; I feel like it’s now my time to take a little break. I will need a healthy amount of money in retirement, but besides that, what am I saving money for? If I were to die tomorrow, my one nephew would already inherit a good amount.

Here’s some other passages I loved in I Feel Bad About My Neck relating to Ephron’s decision to move out of an apartment she adored but that had become way too expensive. It is how I feel about leaving Los Angeles. Pp. 81-83:

Unrequited love’s a bore, as Lorenz Hart once wrote. It had taken me significantly longer to come to that realization in the area of real estate than it ever had in the area of marriage, but I was finally, irrevocably there. Since I was involved in a one-sided love affair with the building, falling out of love was fairly uncomplicated.

[…]

So we prepared to move. We threw away whole pieces of our lives… We felt cleansed. We’d gotten back to basics. We’d been forced to confront what we’d outgrown, what we’d no longer need, who we were. We’d Taken Stock. It was as if we’d died but got to sort through our things; it was as if we’d been reborn and were now able to start accumulating things all over again.

[…]

Within hours of moving in, I was home. I was astonished. I was amazed. Most of all, I was mortified. I hadn’t been so mortified since the end of my second marriage, and a great many of the things that went through my head apropos of that marriage went through my head now: Why hadn’t I left at the first whiff of the other woman’s perfume? Why hadn’t I realized how much of what I thought of as love was simply my own highly developed gift for making lemonade? What failure of imagination had caused me to forget that life was full of other possibilities, including the possibility that eventually I would fall in love again?

[…]

But then she writes:

On the other hand, I am never going to dream about this new apartment of mine.

Because I’m returning to a city I’ve already lived in, and a smaller one at that, I wondered if it would ever inspire me to dream again, but, thankfully, small dreams and hopes are in fact starting to form.

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