I shuttle between stability and chaos. I took this boarding school job so I would have a free place for Emily and me while she finished her graduate degree, but I ache for the next stage, for some stray job offer to come my way and afford me the wings to fly out of here. It doesn't have to be much, just something that will last until the summer and pay me decently. Given my current wages, given the fact that the administration keeps bragging that they hope to offer wages in the top fifty percent of salaries for private schools (this school charges more per year than Harvard) within the next five years, it would not be hard to convince me I was being given a better wage. It would be even easier to suggest that I will be listened to and respected, that my authority - such as it is - will not be undercut, that I will be permitted to live my life after hours without the notice and interference of my employer.
Come June or July or August, everything will change. The next step in this journey is in Emily's audacious but capable hands. I am still so far from something stable, though I am aware I will be saying otherwise a year from now, as Emily and I - then fairly and legitimately newlywed - may go wherever she is offered a chance at her doctorate. It could mean that we don't move far, if Columbia realizes what a boasting point she would be. Or, given that the University of Indiana started assigning her support staff based only on a letter of inquiry, we could end up divorced from anything geographically or socially familiar. She has been half offered a dozen jobs, none that are immediately prestigious enough to justify her Master's degree from NYU but all a good start. Freeing me from this current toil, this job I continue to work to provide a home and comfort to Emily on a three or so days a week I see her, will be a welcome benefit to the move. I took this job to convenience Emily and my life, to make it easier. I think of what I do, what indignities I endure here, in terms of her. I chant the silent mantra, "Do it for her," whenever the administration changes rules to impress the very rich parents of my charges. I whisper it as I endure the space from Monday morning to Wednesday evening (even and especially when I have to work until Wednesday night at ten) when Emily is in the city, crashing on friends' sofas and in spare rooms. I breathe it despite the contradiction of working for a home we truly share for only two nights a week.
The only stability we can hope for, therefore that to which I anchor my concept of "home," is Emily and our future nuptials. She enjoys more than seems possible planning our wedding. For months, we had a twice-weekly telephone relationship with our caterers, as Emily ran changes by me and then called them with our culinary revisions. I address our florist as "Tonks" - though not to her face - owing to her florid hair. Our DJ is a member of Emily's clan who was thrilled at the off-season offer, though reticent to quote us a price. The DJ recommended a government operative, tattooed Buddhist monk to officiate the ceremony. After visiting a site that asked $5000 and provoked Emily to repeat "but it's so formal..." my father suggested using the pavilion built for social functions for the corrections officers with whom he works, who would not be keen on using it on the Ides of March. Our wedding is steadily turning into precisely the affair we intended to have. So many people talk about cold feet and I simply can't imagine this. I know who I am marrying is the right person. It simply cannot happen soon enough.
We both agree that our definition of home is simply where the other person is. For a long time, Emily felt she carried her home upon her back, testudinal. We both carry it inside our chest now. The apartment in which my bed has a place is not my home. For much of the week, it is simply an overnight room to me, a place I stay after I put the children to bed for the night. Only with Emily's addition or the thought of it does it become anything more. I hold no real attachment to the space as a hermit crab cares little for the shells it sloughs off for something a bit roomier. I don't know that this next step in our communal life will be and harbor doubts it will literally be anything vaguely roomier. It will, however, but much more ours. With every additional night I spend with her head on my chest as she falls asleep, it will be our home by degrees.
Soon in Xenology: In another dimension, with voyeuristic intention