For 30 years, I have lived various places between Alexander City, Alabama and Montgomery, Alabama. Unremarkable for some, but for a Navy brat who moved every two to three years until she was 16, miraculous. Also, for 30 years, I have worked at the same building at the same firm. And in spite of such a confined geographical area, we have found jobs in the area that allowed my husband’s career to grow as well. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said that we would spend the rest of our lives somewhere along this 50-mile stretch of road. Heck, I would have said the same thing last week when I wrote my last post. And I have been actively helping my husband search for a new job since October and praying for new opportunities and vistas for my family. We’ve always found a job for him in this area.
There are drawbacks to certainty. The biggest one for me was eventually retiring in the small town where we live. It’s nice enough, but the hour to two-hour round trip to go to Publix or Home Depot wears you down. I’m not from here, which makes friendship-making harder, especially right now during COVID, especially when coupled with the fact that I drive 45 minutes each way to work, and my husband drives an hour and 20 minutes one way.
There are positives to certainty. I don’t ever expect to love a house the way I love the house we live in. While friendship-making is harder, it’s not impossible and I have good friends here. And the building and people I work with are my home, too.
But, out of the blue, an opportunity has opened in the Birmingham area for my husband, and we are taking it. When the job offer first came, we felt like a dog must feel when he finally catches a car he is chasing. We didn’t know quite what to do with it. I’m still a little shell-shocked, caught somewhere between “Holy crap! I have a lot of stuff to get done,” and “Hot Dog! We’ll finally live in a bigger place.” Not to mention navigating all the “what-ifs”—what if the house takes months to sell? What if we can’t find a decent house in the new area we can afford? What if our daughter is miserable up there once we move?
There are drawbacks to uncertainty. Worries pop up daily, imagined and real. The sense of continuity you had, before the uncertainty, departs. Familiar things look different. I saw my 15-year-old house one way last week and differently this week. You don’t quite realize how much needs to be done around a house until you get it ready to sell.
There are positives to uncertainty. It galvanizes you into action and tantalizes you with possibilities. Your soul stretches to reach new, unforeseen places. You take the most familiar things around you less for granted.
As a writer, the shift from certainty to uncertainty gives me new insights into my characters. It helps me empathize with my characters as I place them (deliberately, with malice aforethought) in difficult situations. It helps me understand more ways to describe to you, the reader, the feelings my character experiences. It gives me ideas on how characters are going to deal with the situation(s) I have placed them in. And it shows me why I am a sucker for happy endings. I would like nothing better than to end this next (hopefully brief) season of uncertainty with the words,” And they all lived happily ever after!”