I guess you can’t go through life without making decisions. But still, I hate having to make them. And I’m not sure I’m alone it that. I don’t like making decisions because, quite frankly, I don’t like change. And I know I’m not alone in that. If I have to make a decision, I hold my breath, close my eyes and… no no no, that’s not it. I’m sort of a quick decision maker in that I can’t contemplate, consider, ruminate, scrutinize, and excogitate for too long. It all does nothing to help my anxiety. I like the decision to be as quick and painless as possible so I can move on from the not knowing to the getting-to-know and right into knowing familiar comfort. No sense dwelling on the losses or what I can’t have. Just do it and get it over quickly and move on. Like taking bad-tasting medicine. Toss it back and grab a beer (or chocolate milk) chaser. In terms of quick decision making and Emily, well, not so much. In fact, the polar opposite of me. Truth be told, it’s not a bad thing for us as a couple, as we balance and temper one another when faced with big decisions that affect our lives and our family. When we approach forks in the roads of life, I quickly weigh outcomes in my mind, make a choice and then I set to pressuring Emily, “come on already! make a decision! let’s just do it!” And Emily responds, “but have you thought of this? what about x, y, z? you have to consider such and such.” And so it goes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about big decisions lately. We’re considering buying a condo in a neighboring suburb. The reality is we love our house. We love the size and the flow and the woodwork. We love our small, but adequate, fenced in back-yard. And who doesn’t love a granite counter-top and cherry cabinets? What we don’t love so much is the lack of our community. And what we’re scared about is the school situation for Nina in the not-so-very-distant future.
An opportunity presented itself for us to buy this condo from the current owner, without the expense of a broker. To me it is a no-brainer. Just do it. It is an affordable way to live in a more like-minded, more Jewish community, with good schools, near other queer couples. The other half of the house is owned by Emily’s friends (a lesbian couple with two brown-skinned girls). The deliberations went something like this:
me: let’s do it! emily: what about our house?! we love our house! me: I know, but we’ll love that house too! let’s pack. emily: what about the kitchen?! me: what about the kitchen? emily: it’s horrible! the layout, the space, no counters, the refrigerator is down the hall! and what about the master bedroom? me: what about the master bedroom? emily: it’s all eaves, no walls, not on the same floor as the kids’ bedrooms. and what about all that stucco?! me: what stucco? emily: it’s all over the place! and have you thought about what it means to give up a single-family house, to be living in such close quarters with other people? what about being further from the city? me: what about being further from the city?
You get the point. It isn’t that I didn’t notice anything about the house. It’s in a nice community with good schools near other queer families (have I mentioned that?). It is a beautiful neighborhood, on a corner lot, with attractive landscaping and separate entrances for each household. The condo we’re looking at is a lovely place, well maintained with a pleasant flow and good energy. It feels peaceful and has a distinct air of love within. The main floor bathroom has a walk-in shower, which is perfect for Jo. The bedrooms are good sized and there is nice light. The basement has a place for me to make soap and room for storage. The master bedroom has a blue (my favorite color) bathroom. There is a wood-burning stove in the living room. Does it need more?! I say we just do it.
The reality is that there are pros and cons, good and bad, gives and takes, positives and negatives to every situation requiring a decision in life. And frankly, decisions are unavoidable. As I have considered this whole condo decision and spoken with friends (family members, neighbors, and even strangers in line at Trader Joe’s), I’ve been struck by the fact that everyone everywhere is faced with decisions big and small every single day. There’s no getting around them. People in every facet of my life are dealing with decisions, life-changing decisions, painful decisions, hopeful and hope-filled decisions all the time, even as I type.
What is up with that?! Recently, while engaging in my morning prayer slash meditation ritual I got caught on one of the morning blessings in the siddur (prayer book). The Hebrew is: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָֽשָׂה לִי כָּל צָרְכִּי which gets translated in most prayer-books as something to the effect of: “blessed are You God, Spirit of the Universe, Who provides for all my needs” What I realized in this moment of God’s good humor was that the literal translation is not that God provides for all my needs, but that God provides all my needs! We are thanking God for giving us needs and desires, the impetus to make changes in our lives. That whole free-will thing. For me, it may not make decision-making any easier (or more fun), but it helped me to consider that drive to make my life better not as an enemy to fend off, not as harbinger of doom, but as a welcome guest that affirms the fact that I am alive. The aspiration, challenge, ambition, inclination, proclivity to create and move, to develop, to transform, to evolve, to transmogrify, that propensity toward metamorphosis is a gift from God. That isn’t to say that the grief and loss are not also there. It’s just something I’ve been chewing on.