By now, most of you know my story: I was living in Halifax, had some sort of middle-age meltdown, and traded a six-figure salary for a less is more life in a medieval town in France. Instead of the lofty original goal of cleaning toilets and making beds for a living, I wound up publishing a book, then somehow landed on the Swiss Riviera. I still clean a toilet and make a bed in exchange for three squares a day, but that’s besides the point.
What you may not know is long before I took that decidedly sensible or totally unreasonable (tomatoes, tomahtoes) leap of faith, I tried in vain to craft a way out of my all consuming career. I worked at it for years and I did it all. I hired a career transition professional and nearly inflicted some serious damage to my already addled brain trying to figure out that perfect next step for me.
But there’s none so blind as those who will not see—people who typecasted me in the role of medical doctor and could not envision the diverse skill set a psychiatrist/professor/academic advisor/crisis management expert/team leader/all around awesome giantess could bring to the table. And me, duped into believing I needed to make the same amount of money I had always been making.
Well, there’s nothing like two years of gazing at your navel between croissant gorging and verb conjugating to bring you to your senses. My little experiment has taught me a few things: I suck at French, Meursault wine has no equal, and I can live on far less money than I ever imagined.
And now that I’ve finally realized that, what happens? Well, the dream job rears its ugly head. I make deliberate use of seemingly contradictory words here. “Dream” meaning a position as a student counsellor at a funky community college; a job that makes use of all my expertise and experience and appeals to me on too many levels to count. “Ugly” because where is this job from heaven located? Halifax, Nova Scotia—not because it’s an ugly place but because it’s right back where I started.
If that job had been around back when I was so desperately seeking it, I would’ve dismissed it based on something as silly as a paycheck. Now that I am wise beyond measure, I see a job so perfect for me that I can barely stand it, with a salary that I now realize would also be perfectly fine. Of course that 5000 kilometre commute would be a killer.
Of course if it had appeared way back when and I’d been smart enough to see this opportunity for what it is, I would’ve missed out on the experience of a lifetime, you’d be reading some other lady’s doodles and no one would be the wiser. Both paths have their merits and I don’t believe in having regrets. I’m just saying that sometimes the god of timing needs a punch in the face.
I briefly entertained applying for this job, but I won’t. I’ve just settled in Switzerland and the thought of turning everything on its head makes my own head feel like it might explode. I love it here and while Halifax has many good points, I’ve no desire to return just now.
Plus, there’s that pesky ‘one should consider the needs of one’s partner’ nonsense. Neil loves this foreign life even more than I do. He sees the rest of his days unfolding before him in a country that requires language study (bastard), and I see the rest of my days unfolding beside him, wherever he may be. Otherwise, I’d starve to death.
I know he would go back if I said I really needed to. He’s quite skilled at this supportive spouse crap, obviously. And I may go back someday, but not today. Not even for the chance at a job I’ve always wanted. I’m committed to having my gâteau and eating it too. I know what some of you are thinking: she’s finally lost it; she’s crazy if she thinks she can have it all. All I can say is “Oh, yeah? Crazy like a silver fox.”