How Mr. Book Is Doing

I was asked, and now I’m going to break it down: Not so hot.

It was only a week or so ago that I decided that no matter what happens, we’re moving to California when our lease is up in May. It feels pretty weird to me that I’m the one who decided this—we’ve talked about it for a long time, I’ve given input and waited to see what he wanted to do—but in the end, I made the decision. While I was in Illinois, the Mister was having a particularly bad time at work: the worst timing. And one night, I sent him an email that contained this:

You know what we’re going to be doing a year from now? We’re going to be shoving boxes into a truck, that’s what. And I will be sing-songing to Pete: Bye-bye, [Mr. Book’s work]! Bye-bye, customer service! The cat will be losing it, but getting enough treats and wet food that he’s just nervous and not a catastrophic poop monster; we will probably similarly be bribing Pete with (fruit-sweetened) popsicles. Maybe we’ll make plans to stop for the night halfway through so that Pete and Aztec both can get some rest. Maybe we’ll power through, pausing only to get Taco Bell that I can hand to you and then feed to Pete. It will be hot, but not too humid, and as we make our way south, it will get hotter and drier. Pete will be occasionally interested by our narration, but mostly (likely) bored and tired of the car—whenever we stop for gas, we’ll take a little extra time to let him run around and wear himself out. Maybe we’ll put the laptop on the dashboard in front of me and watch Yo Gabba Gabba together. When we finally arrive, we will be hot and sticky and tired, but there will be beer, juice, a/c, and a pool—and probably pizza from that place we went to with my parents. You will never speak to [your bosses] again, and while you’ll be looking ahead to a tough and schoolworky fall, you’ll be able to spend the summer finding part-time work and playing in the water with the baby, who will hardly be a baby at all.

And after he got that, he seemed to feel a little relieved. When I got home, after he’d had a bad night, I pushed it a little further: A year from now, I said, you will be done with that job forever, even if it means we sell all our stuff and buy plane tickets south (happily, that will not be necessary). I will drag you by your hair away from this place, and in a few years we will come back to a different life in this city we both love. And he seemed relieved again, and encouraged. A couple of days later, he told me that he’d been telling himself at work that he wouldn’t be there at the same time next year, and that it was hard to believe but still helped—and I confirmed that yes, a year from now we’ll be gone. And that’s how we decided.

On the one hand, since we’re moving to my family and my homeland in order to change his career, I have been pretty sure that Mr. Book needed to make the final decision about whether we actually go. On the other hand, I’ve been depressed the way that he is now, and I know how impossible it can be to believe that things will ever change. But things have to change; the function of his current job (as I said to him, hands on his shoulders, looking into his eyes) is to eat him. He is to be used up for the good of the corporation—and he is feeling pretty well chewed up these days. So I said that even if he doesn’t get into law school, we go south and spend the first year with him working part time and studying full time. Either way, though, I’ve got to get him away from his work—it is (of course) impacting every part of his life. Last night, when he got home from work, Joey kept staring at him without reaching out or smiling; Mr. Book wondered aloud whether it was because Joey could tell how upset his dad was. So I spent a little time coaxing my husband to play with the baby, and they both enjoyed it—but it’s not something the Mister can initiate these days. He just isn’t doing well enough.

My parents are delighted that we’re coming, and are remaking one of their guest rooms into a “kids’ room” (my mom is still ready for another grandchild, if anyone was wondering!). I know that there will be hard things about living with them, and Lord knows there will be hard things about law school and babies and a sudden lack of decent public transportation (fun fact: I can’t drive a car). But my sweetheart isn’t doing okay, and we’ve got to make a change.