Work. Bills. Groceries. Dinner. Bathtime. Staying up too late, and getting up too early, and meeting every end but never making any end meet. At work, the two projects I was hired to manage are winding down, and the late stages are where the execution takes place, and the demands of actually bringing something to fruition are making me tired.
Work. Bills. Groceries. Dinner. Bathtime. Calls from the bank, and the vet, and someone we must owe money to whose affiliation was garbled at the end of the message by our ancient answering machine.
When I was younger than I am now, I never wanted to fall into this kind of drudgery. It never ends. The projects change, and the deadlines change, but the day-in, day-out demands and expectations and debts never seem to falter. I need a new challenge, I think, or something to look forward to. We catch up just to teeter on the brink of falling behind, and then we topple over and down. The toddler eats well one night and then spends seven nights wailing at the injustice of pears on his plate.
We watch travel shows and fantasize about running away. Reality is an anchor.
Vancouver is the kind of place where you can do anything. You really can spend a day skiing and then unwind at the beach afterward. Spouse and I have had bitter, bitter fights over whether to eat tacos or sushi or curry or noodles and we have reached impasses where we have gone our separate ways for dinner because that was the only solution. The bike routes are lined with trees and the shade keeps them cool and comfortable. British Columbia is the only place in Canada where you can find any climate in the world; two hours north there is a mountain resort; four hours east, wine country and the desert.
It is – perhaps literally – the most beautiful place in the world, and I am so in love with it that the idea of leaving for an affordable lifestyle where we could pay off our debts and maybe get ahead is less desirable than simply staying and trying to make it work. That is the thing about this place. It will choke you out and you will beg it to let you stay.
Work. Bills. Groceries. Dinner. Bathtime. Rent. Hydro. Car insurance. Credit cards. Daycare. Student loans forever. There are more people in my industry than there are jobs. Every great opportunity is in Toronto. I love the woman who looks after the toddler. I love that if I need pho at 3:00 am because I’ve had a nightmare and can’t get back to sleep I can walk a few blocks and get it (it’s never so cold that you can’t walk a few blocks at 3:00 am). Vancouver is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, and it’s not getting cheaper.
It has been a hard year and a half, and there is no real end in sight. But then we sit on a patch of grass beside the ocean all afternoon in May and I don’t care. The air smells like salt and lilacs.
I don’t know what to do with myself. Work-life balance is one thing; work-life direction an entire other thing. I don’t really have either. We work to pay our way and pay so much to just get by. It’s not sustainable, and I am not excited at any of my current prospects.
Our needs are simple. We are happy to rent. We are city-folk, apartment-dwellers, and occasional hippies. Our friends are artists and writers and environmentalists and teachers and none of us have a lot, but if you zoom out, we really are happy, even if sometimes we have to reassure ourselves of that. It’s just that up close, there are so many hurdles.
Work. Bills. Groceries. Dinner. Bathtime. Repeat indefinitely? What would you do?