We couldn’t do it. My bags were packed and I kissed Paul goodbye. We stared at each other for a long time. My heartburn was stinging my throat, my stomach hurt, and I was sweating. But I was ready to go. It wasn’t such a big deal. It was a half-time job that I would really enjoy. I couldn’t tell why starting a new part-time job felt so pivotal. I’d done it numerous times before in our marriage. No big whoop. Just show up and go. But this small decision felt strangely big, looming … haunting. Paul broke the ice, “It doesn’t feel right,” he said. “I don’t think you should do it.”
Funny, but I started to sweat more profusely. While leaving, I felt all the arguments against going. When Paul said that I shouldn’t go, all the arguments against staying came flying up. I think to myself, don’t say anything at all, keep your mouth shut, let him think. I picture the embarrassing phone call to the nice, kind principal who offered me the job. He needs someone to show up tomorrow. He called all those other applicants and turned them down. Now the search starts all over. Now, he’ll have to check references on someone else and get a substitute for the first day of school. I hate being a flake. I know that’s what I look like. But, like someone walking down the aisle to get married to someone I shouldn’t, I know that if I’m the wrong person for the job, now’s the time to say it.
I feel the acid swirl in my stomach. I throw myself back on my bed, groaning. “It would be so much easier to write fiction!” I said, “then I wouldn’t have to actually live the life I’m writing about!”
It’s not always fun being the main character in your own story because often its danged uncomfortable. My head’s been hurting for days. I mean, you go through times of rest, times of beauty, but if you want a blockbuster life, eventually you’ve got to play for big stakes.
What are we risking? Our dream home hangs in the balance. Possible bankruptcy. No insurance. We might get hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, angry, and bitter. We might fail, look like fools, and serve as a bad example to all who read.
What are we playing for? Family togetherness, freedom, a timeful life, a meaningful life. Modeling to our girls that they should take chances — that they should have courage.
Robin sent us some encouragement that we need to boil down our business plan to one sentence. We’re bettering that by reducing it to three words: Paint, Write, Travel. It’s not much of a business plan other than this — I’m sure that Paul and I can throw our whole entire beings into those three words for a win. We’re motivated. We’ll work harder at that than at anything. This is what we want. It’s simple and honest.
I made the calls to both jobs and got answering machines for both. I felt cowardly telling them on a machine, but I was thankful because I might have burst into tears with the stress of it all. When it was over, I jumped into Paul’s arms and wrapped my legs around him and screamed with joy. He said, “The last time I heard you scream like that was when I asked you to marry me.” Today’s decision felt almost as important, deep, and crucial.
Paul and I tell the kids that mommy’s not taking any job. Instead, we’re going to travel around and blog about it. They look at us sweetly, trustingly, and accept it with that child-like grace that all of us should never lose in the process of growing up.
Then, I call Elida. Before I can get a word in she launches into a speech about how she’s had such a bad day. She read my blog and was thoroughly depressed about my not going to Italy. She was at Powell’s trying to cheer herself up. “What books do you think I should bring?” she asks.
“I didn’t take it, Elida. I didn’t take the job,” I answered.
“What?” she asks. “No way! I’m so excited! Oh, Danielle, I’m so glad. I felt like I got punched in the gut when I read your blog. I know I should have been happy because you would have been closer to me, but I wasn’t. It just felt wrong.”
I agreed and told her all that happened. We chatted about her books, but eventually, we get to Italy. “I might have missed the boat,” I said, “Dad did all that work, checked with me so many times, and I told him I couldn’t.” I wasn’t looking forward to making another difficult call. My stomach couldn’t handle anymore. But Elida is persuasive if she’s anything. She reminded me of the possible bed and breakfast opportunity over there and how that’s on the list of family adventures.”
I asked Paul what he thinks. He said go. I called Dad and break the news. He answered, “You just might be a day late and a dollar short.” I think, welcome to my life. He said, “I’ll see what I can do. Bye.” He calls back. I can go. Before when he arranged my ticket, the times weren’t working out for me to accompany Elida to Madrid to see our good friend, Maria. This time, our times coincided perfectly. My dad’s the best.
I leave in two days. I’m scrambling to find my bikini and hoping to fit… all that I need in a backpack. Members of the family call trying to understand our crazy plan, gently trying to make sure we’re not stupid. It doesn’t make sense. None of it does. There is only a knowing, gut feeling that we’re on our way.