Thinking of the future

I turn 47 tomorrow. Normally, I get in kind of a funk in the weeks leading up to my birthday each year but that didn’t happen this year. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve been going through the Abilify withdrawals (which my husband calls “Evilify”) or what’s happened, exactly.

I am both weirdly excited about my birthday and yet also a bit weirded out that it now seems so close to turning 50. It seriously feels like just yesterday that I was about to turn 27. Time seems to be going faster and faster and as cliche as it sounds, I wish I could slow it down.

My husband and I were talking about the future today—in particular, what I’ll do when he’s not around. That’s always a very sobering and difficult thought. A big part of it is pre-surgery anxiety on his part because he goes in to have his colostomy reversed next week. I know from experience about that pre-surgery dread and the “what if I don’t make it” thoughts.

We were talking first about whether I should keep applying for so many jobs now or wait until after my youngest starts college this fall. My son talks to me almost every night about college and I really value being available for that. I also want to be able to take him down for the new student orientation and again when he’s ready to move into the dorms. He’s the only one of my kids to do this and I really don’t want to miss out on it.

There’s also the fact that (for better or worse) I’ve made an effort to be around for my kids and worked—or more often, didn’t work—to allow myself to be home. It seems like to start working and miss when he goes off to college is like dropping out of the race just before crossing the finish line.

I told my husband that part of why I feel such urgency to get a job is so that we can move into a condo in a walkable neighborhood in Dallas sooner. That subject revealed something interesting: he thinks that goal is something he’s doing for me and I think I’m doing it for him.

He really wants to be in a walkable city neighborhood with public transit nearby. I really want to help him achieve that lifestyle goal before he dies.

He thinks that being in a walkable neighborhood would help me if I reach a point of being unable to drive. Maybe I should be worrying more about that, as it’s certainly a possibility in my future. But right now, it doesn’t feel too likely. While I would enjoy being in a walkable neighborhood as long as he’s still around to go do stuff with me, it’s otherwise not high on my personal priority list if he’s not here. If I try to picture myself too feeble to drive, I think I’d also feel too vulnerable to be walking alone with shopping bags.

He also thinks that buying a condo would be taking care of me in my older years because I wouldn’t have to do yard maintenance and (depending on the condo community) they might do interior maintenance, too. However, even if we owned the condo outright, the condo association fees and property taxes combined would about equal the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment, where they would also take care of indoor and outdoor maintenance.

Honestly, I realize that I’m still pretty terrified of any type of home ownership again. I think of all the things that have gone wrong with this house we’re renting in the past five years and I wouldn’t want to have been personally responsible for the repairs (especially when imagining a scenario in which my husband isn’t around, since he’s so handy and fixes so many things himself without calling the landlord. I’d definitely have to call the landlord a lot more often without his help.)

I’m also thinking ahead to what kind of life I want if he’s not here. If we were already in a condo in Dallas, I’m sure I’d stay there. But if he died before we could make that happen, I’d probably stay within five miles of where I live now. Amy told my husband she figured I’d stay in this zip code and she’s probably right. Of the total almost 17 years that I’ve lived in Texas, I’ve spent more than half of them in this zip code. It feels like home to me, much more so than where I grew up. Without my husband here, if we hadn’t already moved to a condo in Dallas, I probably wouldn’t move to one. I can see myself renting an apartment (or maybe a small house if I could afford it) somewhere not far from where I am now.

In truth, I’m not that adventurous. I described my husband as more generally adventurous than I am and he said he’s not adventurous, he just gets bored. And I guess that’s where we differ. I’m not bored and I don’t generally feel much need to change up my surroundings.

I guess this is one of the many aspects of the future that still remains unwritten. If I get one of the jobs I already applied for, I’ll try to get time off to take my son to school (and might even risk disciplinary action if they won’t give me the time off.) But maybe I’ll slow down on applying for other jobs until he starts school. It’s too important to me to be here and be able to chat with him most nights about college.

And as for what happens with where my husband and I live, in some sense, I’m leaving that up to the future to play out as it will. I have a feeling that I’ll be okay no matter what happens.

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