Monday, April 30, 2012

From the other side of the fence

"Collin came home yesterday, and I think I spent an hour talking to him about dog food and grocery store aisles. I open my mouth and these words come out, and I don't know who it is that is talking," Selene told me as Collin buckled their twins into the car after a play date with Epsilon. "I envy your travelling around for the summer. I wish I could put on my backpack again and hitch hike around Europe."

My protestations of rootlessness and loss of friends all seemed empty in the face of Selene's frustration at being bound to one place for so many years. In spite of the fact that we'll be making a significant move in June to start new positions in September, the fact of the matter is, three conferences relatively close to each other, with a week's down time between each means that our family will have a chance to travel significantly, with a sort of subsidy. The number of stamps in Epsilon's passport embarrasses me when talking to my friends, who, for one reason or another cannot travel so much.

In some cases, it's a class thing. In others it's a job thing. Travelling is one of the perks that keeps me in this line of work. Taking my mother abroad to stay at a fancy conference hotel (and watch Epsilon) where 20 years ago she would take me is a cherished pleasure. Each year, my flight to a different tourist city for a conference, is one more than I could make in a different line of work.

I hear the envy for this lifestyle in Selene's voice. I share her periodic feelings of restlessness and sense of being tied down by family. As the kids wave goodbye to each other, I know she mirrors my sadness in knowing that their remaining play dates are numbered. We both say our goodbyes, longing for the parts of the other's life that we don't have.

I am trying to convince myself that it is not just that the grass is greener on the other side. I am trying to remember why I chose this career.

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