When my son came home a couple of weekends ago, he brought champagne to celebrate my husband’s new job. “Here’s to Mr. Curve Ball!” he said as we toasted Dan’s success. “What comes next?”
We have no idea.
Here’s the thing: we’ve lived in the same tiny Massachusetts town for almost two decades, but Dan’s new job is in southern California. So, at a time when most of our empty-nester friends are settling into retirement, garden projects, grandchildren, and early dinners, we’re blowing up our lives and going bi-coastal. Dan will live in California while I hold down the fort here.
For him, this means enjoying the California sunshine while figuring out which strip mall restaurant has the best burger, how to drive on ten-lane highways, and maybe even testing whether his knees can get him up on a surfboard.
Meanwhile, I won’t have to keep anybody’s schedule but my own. Every day will be a writing retreat. The downside is that I’ll be responsible for everything from walking the dogs to shoveling the driveway alone.
When I shared our new living arrangement with a friend, she didn’t ask whether Dan and I will miss each other. She merely screamed, “Oh my God! What are you going to eat?”
She has a point. Dan is the cook in our family.
“I guess it’ll be grilled cheese and soup, with a few carrots thrown in for roughage,” I said.
“You’re awfully good to let him do this,” said another friend.
No: even if we have to live apart, I want Dan to take this job. My husband has played by the rules for the past 40 years, going to work steadily every day even when the work was less than thrilling. His regular paycheck and health insurance have given me the chance to be a freelance writer, doing work I love and being able to spend time with our five children.
Most Americans spend one-third of our lives at work—that’s about 90,000 hours overall. That’s a lot of time, especially when you consider one study showing that Americans spend less than 40 minutes a day enjoying quality time with their families, and another report estimating that we only spend about 117 days total (or 168,480 mere minutes) making love during our entire lifetimes.
What’s more, a recent Gallop poll has demonstrated that most Americans (about two-thirds) feel “little to no” engagement in their jobs. They’re just like kids at school waiting for the bell to ring and set them free.
Given all of that, how could Dan and I not try this social experiment, if it gives him the chance to work at a job he loves?
Even if it means tuna melts and grilled cheese are my go-to foods, it’s totally worth it.