I don’t even like the word limbo though

I’d say we’re in limbo again, but I’m ever so slowly realizing that adulthood is anything but stable and always in limbo. Becoming a responsible adult is the easy part; the hard part is managing constant change and uncertainty. There will never be employment that is a sure thing for life, and I don’t know why I was always working towards that, anyway. Wouldn’t that be dull?

I have been working as a Communications Specialist and an Audio Specialist since September and December, respectively. The former has been quite difficult, and has filled me with both more doubt about myself (and my work ethic) while also filling me with assured-ness of not wanting to do it for the rest of my life. I am just not the type to run after the virality of a post every day, and that’s okay, because there are people out there who live and breathe all that.

The latter position has been a wonderful experience, and I get to listen to strange and wonderful things every day, and learn more about the best quality capture and sticky shed and splicing. I don’t really know what it means for the future, but I’m giving up on that line of thought. All I can really do for sure is follow experiences, and meet new people, and gather up opportunities, and hope for the best. And that I will be able to always pay rent. That is just as important as being content with my work, don’t you think?

We took a much-needed trip back to California in February. I would say vacation, and it was a vacation from the two jobs I hold, but it didn’t feel very relaxing. Derek and I are getting married in Berkeley in October, so the week was crammed with wedding appointments. By the afternoon I’d feel so spent and done, but then we’d meet with friends. Before each meeting I’d have to give myself a pep talk: “You want to be social! You want to see people you haven’t seen for over a year! You DON’T want a nap!”

The trip made me sad as well as tired. If we revisit this theme of limbo of adulthood, I can not only apply that to job status but to our home. The last six months dealt us such strong homesickness and such a yearning to live back in the Bay, to say goodbye to the Midwest because we thought we were pretty much done (and not only because I’m losing one of my jobs in May, which yes, was unexpected and yes, did pull the rug from under our feet again, but why was I even surprised?). I felt so full when we flew in over the Bay, and so happy when we drove back into Berkeley. It was so familiar; little things had changed but pretty much it was the way we left it.

Except that: we felt like tourists. There are so many new apartment buildings going up, and it’s obvious we sure as hell can’t afford them. Two of our friends couldn’t say anything good about it anymore and can’t wait to move up the coast. They were paying the same rent for a small one bedroom that we pay for our huge, beautiful, hardwood floor covered 3-bedroom apartment in Madison. The same kind of bougey restaurants are going up all over town. Oakland felt the same way in some parts. It looks like the tech industry of San Francisco is really spilling into the East Bay now. Not that the East Bay wasn’t expensive before — if you wanted your own room, you had to cough up $800 at the very least — but it felt so much less accessible this time.

It makes me so sad. And angry. I hate that so many people who have lived there for a long time are being pushed out so all these software developers of banal, stupid apps can come in. Fine, I like my shower clock app that repeats the time to me, I like browsing through my Pinterest app, I like my to do list app. But I don’t think these kind of things deserve lots of money in return. I know it’s a tired argument, but why does someone who develops an app that will likely be gone in 5 years get paid more than a teacher who will change a student’s entire life?

Derek and I talked to each other on the plane ride home with this enormously hard truth on our shoulders: we don’t think we could make it in the Bay anymore. The idea of living in the Central Valley sounds completely 100% awful, commuting for even 30 minutes in East Bay traffic sounds just as horrendous, and I don’t know if I still want to pay a ton of money to live somewhere a little more affordable like El Cerrito but without all the charm of Berkeley.

I just didn’t expect this.

We don’t have to think about it for a while, anyway, I suppose — we have decided to stay in Madison another year as more sonic opportunities crop up for me. And after that, now we’re looking at the central coast, where I grew up … which really doesn’t sound all that bad anymore, considering rich hipster douchebags won’t clog it up as much. (Tell us how you really feel, Dana) Anyway, maybe we can find a home in there someday.

Bowing out for now. Generally, life is good. The cats are sleepy and the peppermint brownies I just made are calling.

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3 thoughts on “I don’t even like the word limbo though

  1. It’s Mark L. from library school. You know me- gay scooter kid. LOL. Anyway, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to grow up in a beautiful area like the San Francisco Bay. I have never even visited. Just about everybody in my family is from Wisconsin, and has lived there for generations, going back to my great-great-grandparents or great-great-greats. Thanks for telling me about the conflict between the tech people and the locals in SF: I knew there was a conflict, but I wasn’t sure what it was about: it’s a shame the locals like you and Derek are getting priced out. Boo!

    I was raised in Chicago, which isn’t too far away, and I am back living with my parents. So the transition to adulthood hasn’t been easy for me much, either. But as much as I hate living with my parents- and here’s something I’ll admit to you that I’ve never admitted to anyone yet- I also like it because it’s familiar and I’m scared of the uncertainty. With them, it isn’t there because I know they will feed me, do my laundry, drive me to work and still let me sleep in my childhood room.

    I’m trying to move on and move out- I’m applying for jobs left and right- but part of me doesn’t really want to leave. Wow. This is the first time I’m admitting this and I’m getting goosebumps just typing it. Does that make me sound like an A-hole?

    Anyway, uncertainty is part and parcel of adult living, unfortunately. I wish I could tell you how to deal with it but I can’t, because I don’t have any better answers than you do. I probably feel the same way about Wisconsin that you do about the Bay- it’s Home. It will always be Home: but it’s Walker’s Wisconsin now, and in Madison, the supposed “gay mecca” of the state, the community is small. My dating prospects aren’t too grand there, never have been, never would be: and same thing with the Jewish community. It is vibrant but small. The smallness irks me: where are the opportunities for learning, for growth? The smallness of the gay community and the Jewish community, my dismal employment prospects there, and the political turmoil meant I was only too glad to pack up and leave when I did.

    Granted, I am not trying to slam Madison. It’s a wonderful city: I love the lakes, the restaurants, the music scene, my theatre scene where I know people, seeing someone I recognize as I pass by on the street: the eccentrics, the whole vibe of it: and it is thronged with dozens of my relatives and dear friends. It was always my dream to live there someday: and I got my wish for two whole years. Now I love it even more because it is the city where I found my calling, as a librarian and as a Jew: and where I met more wonderful people, like you. Would I move back in a heartbeat? Hell yes. But is it really the best city for me to live in at this point in time? I somehow doubt that. But then, I doubt a lot of things these days.

    I’m hunting for a job of my own and a place of my own, even if that place is just a bed and a bathroom. The only thing I can tell you is, try to fight through the uncertainty and the bleakness. Life can be like a tug-of-war sometimes but you’ve got to keep fighting, you’ve got to keep tugging on your rope. And you have to have happiness in your life, even if you have to manufacture it yourself: today I pretended like I was in a doo-wop quartet and sang along to “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” while putting clothes away. Life may not present you with any sort of Grand Plan, so snatch at the small moments of happiness when you find them.

    Best of luck! And of course, my sympathies.

  2. I would say amen sister, but you’re my daughter. And you two are by no means alone; believe me we remember our younger years.
    Think the whole West Coast area– Seattle / Portland may still be doable.

  3. Yeah…sorry, but it is true. The tech industry really has changed things here. I never wanted to stay here, but now I want to leave more than ever. I’m sorry that things aren’t working out the way you wanted. Maybe we can be neighbors in Santa Barbara someday!

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