No, I’m not pregnant. No, I didn’t get a book deal. No, we’re not getting divorced.
We are planning on moving to Cape Town, South Africa in the Spring of 2012. That’s 8,000 miles away from home.
I’ve been avoiding discussing this topic as my Internet persona, because a) I couldn’t figure out how to break the news (Collin’s cousin wrote up a press release when he and his girlfriend decided to move to NYC. We’re not nearly that clever) and b) It’s not 100% sure, in that Collin’s job offer can’t be made “official” until after his thesis is turned in, and there’s always the possibility of visa trouble. But in my real life, I’ve been operating under the assumption that I will be leaving the country in a few short months. I almost spilled the beans this morning via the all-caps rage tweet “THE HUNGER GAMES MOVIE COMES OUT AFTER I LEAVE THE COUNTRY,” and then I realized I might as well share this development properly on my blog.
So how did this come to be? Collin studies TB/HIV coinfection, and South Africa is The Place to study that, because sadly, there are a lot of people with the coinfection there. When I met him, he told me he planned to move to South Africa after getting his PhD. My best friend from high school had just gotten back from a Peace Corps term in South Africa, and from what I heard from her it sounded like a place I couldn’t handle living. So I said, “That’s great. Just FYI, we won’t be dating anymore when that happens.”
Then, you know, life happens, Collin and I get more serious. He says he can’t be apart from me, and I’m the most important thing in his life, not his career. So a full-on move to South Africa’s out. We get married. Collin is inching closer to graduating. The conversation comes back. What about collaborating with the South Africa lab, so Collin’s only there a few months out of the year? The thought of being without Collin, even for a few months, makes my stomach turn, especially if I’m living in a new city where I don’t know people. Well then why don’t I come with him for those few months? Well won’t all that periodic moving stall my already-stalled career even more? And given my ambivalence about my career path and utter failure to bring home the bacon, shouldn’t we probably, as a family, take the best possible opportunity for Collin’s career?
How can I be the reason that Collin doesn’t follow his dream? How is that compatible with my marriage vows?
And won’t this be good for me too? Life experience to fuel my writing! I can be an expat blogger! I can volunteer with a women’s rights NGO and stop feeling so guilty that all my feminist activity involves criticizing Top 40 songs! I can do something hard and scary and live to tell the tale!
It’s only for one or two years while Collin completes a post doc. This is the only time that we can drop everything and move to a different continent for a couple years. We don’t have kids. Neither of us has to leave a job to do it. It’s now or never.
And we can spend the rest of our lives obnoxiously saying, “Well, when we lived in Africa…” and pretentiously covering our walls in woven reed baskets!
Well, sold. Sure, I’m scared. Am I going to miss the US? Holy crap, yes. Am I nervous about culture shock? Hell, I had culture shock when I moved to Washington state and football started at 10AM. So yes. But I can do it. And in doing it, be with my husband as he follows his dream, and allow my own life to get a heck of a lot more interesting.