After the daily deluge dealing with toddler tantrums, planning meals, running errands, bear hugs, and midterms is over, Chris and I sit down and mull over “The List.” That is, the list of pros and cons for each new job opportunity: pay, travel (lack thereof preferably) its locale (not Texas, ideally,) its outdoor offerings, its educational offerings for all parties involved, etc. And then we try to assess the weight of each category. With all these decisions to be made, sleep is somewhat scarce.
While thinking of the future it is hard not to reflect on the past. Looking back (not too far back either,) I remember how Chris traveled what I remember as 50% of the year, but what he says was actually 30% of the year. What does that mean? Chris missed 30% of Holden’s first year of life and about 15% of Casey’s, all to keep our family afloat. In those times he was gone I sent a bajillion gigawatts of photos and videos, but of course, it was not the same. The comfort during that time period was nothing other than the good old American dream: you work hard, you pay your dues, and slowly and surely life becomes steadily easier.
That is what the Hovensa opportunity was for us. Yes it was a move to the Caribbean and great career experience for Chris sure, but it was also the culmination of sacrifice for the greater good of our family: a place with reliable hours, a comfortable wage, and with such much natural beauty in both the island itself and in many of its inhabitants. In short, a living balance in which our family could learn and love and grow together.
While I will miss it, I sometimes think it best that our time here was so limited. While many people move here chasing blue-tinged dreams, the reality is that the cost of living is high and the professional opportunities are low. This creates an entirely new definition of bitter (i.e. those who came here with an ideal and then feel trapped and limited here.) It certainly doesn’t happen to all, and I don’t think that would happen to us, mainly because we wouldn’t have been brave enough to take the leap with two kids without an escape plan, but at least we will leave here with our idealism intact and a healthy balance in place.
And what of it? Is it possible to strike a happy medium? To provide for your family but keep your tail out of the rat race? To appreciate the comforts that come with the allmighty dollar without allowing it to consume you? How about paying $6 for a half carton of milk but drinking your White Russian with a view of the ocean?
I think so. I think both the rigors of our Austin life and the generally-laid back “oh hey I see you are trying to get into traffic..let me immediately stop and beep you in!” life we led here helps maintain a healthy perspective into the need for the ying and yang of life. And I can’t wait to see where our next adventure leads.
But for now, I’m going to machete open some coconuts from our front yard while we still got ’em. Gather ye coconuts while ye may!