A Bird in the Hand: On Being Satisfied and Still Dreaming
Tuesday, February 28, 2012Tweet
Mike and I love the apartment complex where we live, but a few months ago we started discussing moving from our 1-bedroom to a 2-bedroom apartment. We hate not having a guest room to offer people who are visiting Chicago or for my sister when she spends the night; right now the options are the couch or an air mattress.
We asked our landlord to let us know if a 2-bedroom opened up. As luck would have it, somebody moved out of one recently, and it was the largest of the 2-bedroom layouts. The landlord left us the key so we could check it out when we got home from work.
It was weird to go back into apartment-hunting mode. Last time we were looking for an apartment, I was a month out of grad school, looking for a job, and two months away from our wedding. It was a time of huge change, and I was looking forward to moving out of my parents' house and finding the place my husband and I would call home together.
This time was a lot different. Since we knew we liked our town, the landlord, and the complex itself already, we could focus solely on the apartment itself.
And... it kind of sucked. Yes, it had a second bedroom, a dishwasher, and a slightly larger living room. But it just felt cramped. The kitchen drawers were half as wide as the ones we have now. The pantry was too small for the shelf we use now. We would have had to squeeze past the dining room table just to get in and out of the kitchen.
Thankfully Mike and I were both on the same page about it right away, so neither of us had to argue or defend our position. Sometimes he and I are just in tune like that, and I'm grateful for it. We both like our current apartment a lot, and when we got back home, he said, "If only we had our exact apartment now... but with a second bedroom!" My thoughts exactly.
If we'd moved into that apartment two and a half years ago, I'm sure we would have adjusted to it just fine. But since we have such a great place now, our standards are a lot higher for what it would take for us to move. The second bedroom by itself was not worth shelling out a lot more money every month for, not to mention having to go through the whole process of packing up and moving our stuff and trying to reconfigure everything to fit the new layout.
We could have easily gotten fixated on the idea that we need a second bedroom. But we don't. Not right now. It's not worth giving up what we have right now, that we know makes us happy, simply because we have this idea that having a second bedroom would be even better.
So our friends will have to live with the air mattress for the time being. Sorry.
This experience tonight gave me some much-needed perspective on my career. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that Mike and I are aiming to move to Seattle eventually -- move back, for me, since I was born there. This is a struggle for me because on the one hand I tell myself there will never be a perfect time to move, I don't want to put it off forever, I will be so happy once I'm there, and so on. It doesn't help that I'm re-reading The Four-Hour Work Week, which is basically like, "If you don't go after your dreams now, you will regret it forever."
But -- I really, really love my job here. I love the college I work for, I love my boss and coworkers, and people across the college, like, hardcore love the work I do, so I feel super-appreciated.
And so I often think to myself, "If only I could keep this exact same job... but have it be in Seattle!"
But, as I wrote recently, nothing in life comes in a perfect package. And it's not worth sacrificing the happiness I have now for this notion that being in Seattle will be that much better. It needs to be the right job, at the right time, to make it worth moving.
So for the moment we will stay in our little apartment, and I will keep the job I have, and we will continue being happy. And I will continue building connections and learning new skills, and we will continue saving up our money.
And then, just as Mike and I looked at each other tonight and shook our heads, I feel confident that the day will come when we'll look at each other, nod, and say, "OK, let's do this."
The future will unfold in its own way, on its own time. And I'm OK with that.