Friday, May 28, 2010

Falling into Place

David and I have a routine.  I'm sure a lot of couples end up taking on one role or another in a marriage, and ours is always like this:

I worry and fret.

David repeatedly assures me that it will all be ok.

I argue, protest, point out all of the reasons why it most certainly might not be ok.

He is always, inevitably right.

(About this particular scenario, I should say.  We have lots of other disagreements where, I assure you, he is not always right.)

I don't know why I can't just breathe and let go and be absolutely confident it will all work out.  I sometimes feel like I used to be able to do that...  back when I was a kid?  back before graduate school make me twitchy and neurotic?  back when I paid for beer and movie tickets instead of beer and a mortgage?

I try to be optimistic.  I work with the idea that that it is possible things will be just fine.  But I also want a back up plan in place.  What will we do if.

If I can't finish my dissertation.
If I totally bomb the defense.
If I don't get a job.
If my article gets rejected.
If I can't extend my health insurance plan through the university.
If we can't afford to go to Korea.
If my tire explodes on the highway because David wouldn't take it to the garage to be looked at when the tire light came on.
If my slip starts sliding out from under my skirt while I am standing up in front of the class, lecturing them on Northanger Abbey

David hates the what-if game.  I guess I use it as a kind of defense mechanism.  Hope for the best, be prepared for the worst.

As I tell myself over and over again, being prepared or even expecting the worst doesn't make it easier to deal with when it arrives.  And when I end up in the best-case instead of the worst-case scenario?  Well, it just makes me realize how much time I can lose to the stomach-knotting fretting and worrying that is actually not very productive at all.

Because I finished the dissertation and I passed the defense.

Because I have teaching jobs lined up for the fall.  Good jobs.  Jobs that I'm excited about.  Jobs that could become more permanent positions in the future.

Because my article did get accepted for publication and the letter from the editor of the academic journal left me feeling on top of the world.

Because it turns out I can renew my insurance, because we are carefully saving money for the Korea trip, because my tire just had a slow leak from running over a screw and was easily patched. 

And because I now know that should my slip start sliding out from under my skirt, I will simply bend over very subtly and slide the slip all the way down to my ankles, then step out of it without pausing in my lecture, hope that the desk in front of me hid most of that situation, and be thankful that my students are too polite to mention it or burst out laughing.

So I am making a conscious effort to live in the moment and not worry so much about the what if.  Because chances are things will work out.  And if they don't?  I can trust myself to make a good decision in that moment.  I don't have to have a contingency plan for every possible scenario.  I can handle it--even if it is totally unexpected.

David is right--things are always ok in the end. 

It might have taken that letter of acceptance from a British professor at an academic journal to make it feel true, but I think I am finally starting to believe it.

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