Tough Times.

We don’t want to leave New Orleans.

But we’re preparing to do so.

It’s been several stressful months here after Paul’s contract evaporated a few months earlier than expected.  He’s got a wonderful start-up in the works, but it’s a start-up… it’s not a job.  And it’s not close to being finished.  Our expenses, which are almost completely made up of three things (house, kids’ school, health insurance), have eaten through our savings… again.  This has happened to us before.  Job lay-offs have put us within 2-3 months of losing it all at least twice since getting married.  But we have always managed to work it out.

And we’re trying to work it out.  We should be able to work it out.

But here’s the rub: while it’s hopeful that Paul will have 8 more weeks of billable work coming soon, after that…?  After that, the options are very limited.  There is no high tech in New Orleans.  My assorted jobs will not carry us — living in a high-expense city means that Paul must work.  What if there is nothing after this 8 weeks?  Then what?  The stress of that question alone is a pretty tremendous weight.

We know we have to start preparing, just in case.  Which means we’re looking around thinking about what we have to do to get the house ready for sale, or possibly (hopefully?) lease.  We’ve canceled the extras.  We’re selling things (anyone want Impacto Zero?  Or a double stroller?  For that matter, email me if you want our house!)  We’re trying to see if Will can attend First Grade at an Immersion Charter School (since he’s 62nd on the wait list for Kindergarten), in the event we can work it out to be here in the fall.  Maybe I can try to beg Kate into the one that takes 3 year olds?

We’re debating.

Overseas….?  Well, I’d need to find work.  It would be cheaper to live.  The kids would still have immersion in a second language.  Paul could work on the start-up full-time and we’d live off my salary.  I could only do it for a year or so because then I’d have to get back to finishing my dissertation, which I would not be able to do while holding a full-time job.

Move to the NOLA suburbs…?   We’d be staying in the States and could keep the kids in an Immersion school.  Paul would still have to work somewhere, and we wouldn’t need as big of a salary… but he wouldn’t be challenged.  We’re not really suburb people, but it wouldn’t be as bad here as other places.

Move somewhere for a job for Paul…?  This one scares us the most.  He could easily get a job in the DC area, but the thought of us moving up there hits like a death sentence.

Move somewhere else for a job for either of us…?  The irony is that Louisiana is the best place for me — it’s the least healthy place in the United States and ground zero for all my skills and interests.  But there is no work here (part of the reason our health outcomes are 50/50 across the board.)  Where else could we go?

It feels so odd for both of us to have so much promise, talent, and skill… and to have to struggle to put it in the place we want most to give it.

The bottom line is that like so many others we are filled with uncertainty.  I force myself to ignore it, we’ve done it before and I can’t destroy myself dwelling on one more thing.  (I spend enough time worrying about house fires and driving into a lake.)  The high cost of living here?  It’s wearing us down, frankly.  Paul’s digestive system sounds like an espresso machine and my eyes look like I’ve been boxing without a mask.  How long until we break?  Do we keep trying to work it out, or do we bail?  And if we bail, we run out of here and to….?

We just don’t know.