Transfer Rumblings

I sat down on the sofa next to R.  The warm June breeze was blowing through the back window looking out onto the backyard.  I slid off my shoes, feet tired from standing for two hours at my last web design class this evening, and pulled my feet up onto the sofa in blissful rest.

“So, what did you want to talk to me about?” I asked, reaching for the cool Mike’s Hard Lemonade I’d grabbed out of the fridge.

R hardly ever “just wanted to talk” so I knew it was something serious.  After dinners on a weeknight he was usually working at his computer in the basement office or mindlessly watching TV.  Often he barely even glanced at me after I returned home from class on the one evening a week I worked; I would walk over to him and stand in front of him to get him to say hello.  After a busy day at work, and then alone tending the children when I went to teach at the university, the last thing he wanted to do was engage in conversation.  He would say that he had been talking all day; in meetings at work, on the phone with colleagues, and then with the kids as they filled the two hours he had with them before they went to bed. He relished the silence more than he thought it was necessary to communicate.

“Well, things are starting to get a little interesting at work,” he started.  Ah, work.  I had a feeling it would have to be about work.  If it was serious it was either about work or someone in his family.

“How do you mean, interesting?” I asked cautiously, taking a sip of my drink straight from the bottle.

R barely told me anything about what was going on at work.  I didn’t know anyone’s name that he worked with; we never socialized with colleagues of his.  R definitely was one to leave work at work.  “I’m getting a lot of questions as to what I am going to do next.”

“What you’re going to do next?  What’s wrong with what you’re doing now?”

“Well, this company rotates people around a lot; usually every eighteen months or so.  The idea is to get you to be well rounded.  If you want to move up in the company, you have to be willing to spread yourself around.”

I did the math.  R had already had two positions since we’d lived here, and we had been here four years not the three that the timeline would dictate.  It was time for another switch.   “And spreading yourself around…does that mean that you would spread yourself around here or would we have to move for you to find another position?”  The idea of moving now, as we were uncovering Michael’s issues, seemed daunting.  And Zach was in high school; I remembered that my sister always had said it was a horrible thing to move a child in high school, as had been done to her.

“I could stay here,” R said, sensing my apprehension.   “But it would probably be better for my career if I opened myself up to other options elsewhere.”

Better for his career.  I mulled the words over in my head.  I had just been asked to take on more teaching responsibilities at the university; I would be walking away from a promising future there.  Not to mention the proximity to the family; R had told me often that there was no branch of his company in Michigan and no hope of us ever being transferred there.  “Where would you be interested in working?”

“Well, to advance higher than my current level, there aren’t a lot of options.  The best choices would be Los Angeles, or Connecticut.  There’s also an opening in Baltimore, but I am not sure if that one is viable.”

An opening?  “So you’ve already looked into this.”

“I didn’t want to have the conversation with you without being able to give you some concrete facts as to what could happen.”

I sighed, a filmstrip running through my head of the last four years; all that we’d built here, all that we had enjoyed about living here.   It was a shorter one than the one that had played in my head when we’d left Michigan, but it was still the same theme:  loss, sacrifice, opportunity, unknown.

“What do you think?” R asked, when I didn’t add words to my exhaled response.

I searched carefully for the right words.  “I think that you need to explore what the options are, and then we’ll cross whatever bridge there is to cross when we come to it.”

His eyes were serious.  “So you aren’t telling me no?”

I looked down at my hands.  “I couldn’t say no outright until I know what I’m saying no to.  If you say it would be bad for your career to stay here, then we have to weigh that against the damage to the kids.  The younger two are little enough that it would be OK.  I will worry about Z, but I suppose if we are sure we land in the right place, then that would lessen the impact on him.  There are a lot of factors.  So go ahead and look into it, and then we’ll see what comes of it.”

I sounded rational and logical and supportive, but inside I was screaming.  I didn’t want to leave my life again.

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