J's godfather has a saying, which J's family are fond of repeating. It goes something like: "When you get to making decisions at a certain age, you always only ever have two choices and they're both wrong."
The phrase has been getting a lot of airing for us lately.
From my last post, you'll know that we were thinking of moving to Bristol. At the time, that seemed like an easy, painless solution to all our problems - the referendum, work, our families being so far away.
We went down a few times. We met some people. It was all very positive. But then we knew we weren't ready yet - we were just trying to understand what was right for us, and when it would be possible. Maybe spring, summer next year. We don't have the money now. A job was offered and then seemed to disappear. Good, let's just settle in here and enjoy our lovely house, enjoy living where we do and let things unfold. See how things progress, and save money.
And then today, J was offered this job - 12 months contract, he must be there 5 days a week. And everything went up in the air again.
Could we do it? Well, technically. Anything is possible. Flying down Sunday/Monday, back Friday. For a year. But what would the toll be on our relationship, health, finances? We were planning on starting a family in the next few months. That would be a big spanner in the works.
It's almost too long a contract - there's no doing this short term and opting out, returning to Glasgow if it didn't work. But at the same time, it's a chance to move fast.
The past few weeks, while we've been mulling this over, have been important. We've been both trying to anticipate what we would gain, and working out what we might lose. We still aren't there, aren't certain. We are trying to guess how we'll feel when the parameters are all different. It's an almost impossible task.
What we might lose
Our house. Our lovely, cosy, strange little house, which we both unashamedly absolutely love. Is it a house forever? No, probably not. But it could be a house for a few years. This house made living in Glasgow, far from family and friends, so much more bearable, by being close to friends up here, close to J's work, by having an office to let me start a business. It's been a house that has facilitated a lot of happiness, companionable calm and space to think and be comfortable. We haven't had to break our backs with DIY, have been able to put up visitors and J has had a loft. We have had far too many impromptu cocktails out with a 100 yard stagger home. It is a wonderful place to live that felt like our house from the second I found it on Rightmove.
And yet this summer, I also felt trapped here. The neighbours on one side were veering pretty far into the antisocial territory. It suddenly seemed like a terrible place to have a family. But we're back to where we were. We love it and the stability it brings.
Jon's job up here is stable. It's progressing slowly though. Over the summer, it seemed to have stalled entirely. But there are now specks of light on the horizon (aka January) when progress might be made.
What we might gain
Jon would gain a huge promotion. And I would also potentially get more work, more opportunities. I don't want to regret my career. But this comes just at the time that we are thinking of having a family.
I may feel less cut off, both professionally and personally, though these feelings have been waning a little this past month. Perhaps it's with Christmas on the horizon, and lots of family time currently planned in (Christmas shopping with my mum, parents and brother and sister in law visiting as well as Christmas itself). I wonder if I will feel the same come January?
We would be closer to both of our families. I see my parents with my brother's children and I see a relationship that would be impossible if we stayed where we are. J's parents are much more peripatetic - they may come and rent a place up here for some months, if we did have a family. It is, perversely, easier to get to see them where they live than for us to get to my parents, though closer as the crow flies. And as our parents age, this may be more important.
What we just don't know
How to prioritise and which risks to take. Closer to our families, but harder for us to build our own? Hours of commuting each week? Living a long way out of a town we don't yet know? And will halving the distance to our families have any measurable impact on our lives?