We’ve met, we’ve gotten educated, we’ve gotten married, and almost all in two different cities. Now I’ve quit my job so I can finish my dissertation, and we live together, what a concept.
Okay, year together, blah blah blah. Gardening, working, eating locally, helping each other, all good things. I’m not kidding when I say it was a relief that we still liked each other – I had heard all these horror stories (okay, maybe 2) of academics who lived apart for 25 years, retire and live together and then get divorced because they had never had to live together before.
Anyway, there are no prospects for jobs for me in the town we lived in. No engineering. I see and apply for a job at Purdue on a complete whim because I never thought they’d want to hire me – it was at the first engineering education department in the country and they were recruiting all kinds of fabulous people, and why would they want to hire me? And in fact, I gave up on the job because I applied in November and heard nary a peep until February. I’ll speed through the interview process here (a post for another time, I think) – suffice it to say that I got offered a job. NOW what was I going to do? (Besides crank up finishing the dissertation, I mean. )
We pfutzed around with spousal hiring for a while – Purdue has a good program out of the Provost’s office where the hiring department would pay a 1/3 of someone’s salary, the spouse’s department pays 1/3, and the Provost’s office pays 1/3 for 2 years of a job. But you have to find a job to apply this to, and we rather failed. In addition, Steve felt like he had committed to his job for the next year already – students were signed up in his classes, he was working with people on writing a couple of grants, and so on. We were back to looking at living in different cities.
So we sold my clunker car to my parents, bought a hybrid, and started house-hunting in West Lafayette. I finished my dissertation over the summer, defended in July, deposited in August, and started my new job August 13. We ratchetted up our eco-guilt by buying another house in October (financially manageable as we now have 2 salaries, no kids, and live in places where houses always were reasonably priced).
We still shuttle back and forth. The person who drives the most (like 2 weekends in a row) drives the hybrid. We have a back way that’s shorter but on a small 2-lane highway, and the front way that’s longer but freeway. Either way, it takes about 2.5 hours to get from one home to the other. We use the cell phones to chat like others do as they pass each other in the house or the hallways. We have video iChat on our Macs and actually seeing each other regularly helps.
But looking after two houses, not just one, when both of us are stretched so thin with stuff at work is a real strain. I can’t help him when he is super stressed and stops eating properly because he doesn’t have time, and he can’t help me when I can no longer talk on the phone because I have been talking all day and don’t want to recount everything again and am too tired even to be able to decide to go to bed. We have twice the expenses, twice the number of appliances to break, twice the maintenance, twice the laundry, twice the carbon-dioxide guilt. I have to be organized enough to have the right clothes, books, research in the right place. When we have enough food in one house, we might be missing it in the other – do we need milk and toothpaste here, or there? Is the cookbook with that recipe here or there or online, or did I imagine it? Don’t we have a (enter cooking utensil here), or is it at the other place or did we break it? Shoot, my snow boots are there, even though I have 5″ of snow here. Oops, can’t go to the other home this weekend, as we’re under a winter storm warning of freezing rain (or fog, like last Monday), but can’t do laundry here as the washing machine is broken.
I can’t even imagine having a kid at this point.
So now we’re trying to find a way to live in the same place again. On this Valentine’s Day, when we’re supposed to be posting about Happy Woman Professor Day, wish the two of us luck. It’s my turn to drive this weekend, and that’s what I’ll be doing this evening – not so much for any romantic reason as I have two doctors appointments on Friday, and haven’t found new doctors in West Lafayette yet. The trials of living in two places. I’ll try and post on HWPD, but it will be late – after all, I have to do my laundry first.