Life Provisional

My life feels entirely provisional right now, up-ended by my wife’s unilateral decision to end our marriage. I move out of the house she owns at the end of August—today is June 10.  Between now and then I must pack and remove everything I own, downsizing as I go to minimize the move and to accommodate the smaller space I will eventually rent. My plan is to live temporarily as lightly as I can between September and the end of December, and then move to Boston in January. Friends have offered me their house for the interim.

Everything is up in the air. I have teaching commitments during the summer term at Hult, and in the fall term at Stanford and Hult. Negotiations are proceeding to transfer my Hult adjunct professorship to Hult’s Boston campus but nothing is yet confirmed. I will be giving up my established relationship with Stanford—my first teaching experience. I am giving up my entire west coast life.


Outside of work, I have a tooth extraction later in June, the first step in an implant procedure that my dentist and I hope to have completed by the end of the year. On July 24th I have hand surgery to correct a bent finger, the result of a Dupuytren’s contracture condition. I will be out of the water for six weeks, and during the recovery period completing the final packing of my furniture and possessions. The moving Pod arrives on August 28th for only two days of packing. My hand is sure to hurt and be of limited use.

Hundreds of questions keep me awake at night, or more often wake me up at 3:00am eliminating sleep for the rest of the night. I keep an ever-expanding list of things to accomplish, what not to forget.

This is not the life I planned to have, nor want to have. I planned to live out my life in San Francisco. I planned to live out my life with my wife.  It was a purposeful decision to move here in 2008, to start afresh in a new job, a new city, a new life—all mission accomplished. I moved here with the intention of forming no new romantic relationships. Eleven years later, and two relationships later, it’s again an intention. Why risk heartbreak again—three strikes and I’m out.  The odds haven’t been in my favor.

I have been an expat many times in my life—in Ireland, Spain, Singapore, Australia, France, Japan. San Francisco at first felt like a foreign city.  Now it feels like home. A home I am leaving.


Depression about this situation comes and goes. I want to be on the other side. My list of things to do, of worries, just grows longer even as tasks get checked off. I’m sure my mail will be messed up for months, temporary address after temporary address. Big changes like health insurance are worries, too, but will sort themselves out in due course. It’s the hundred little things that make me anxious. I try not to project outcomes but a score of different scenarios keep playing out in my head. Few look good at this distance.

Some days I feel confident that moving to Boston will be absolutely the best possible outcome to a sad and unfortunate situation. Other days I think it’s just an attempt to mix up some lemonade from a sack of rotten lemons. It’s a leap into the unknown, like being an emigrant arriving in a new, vaguely familiar country.  Having Sam and family there helps. I won’t be entirely alone.


I ask myself why does it have to be this way, why couldn’t my wife have found a way to explore a new possibility?   It’s not a helpful question anymore. Helpful questions now must be about the future, not what might have been. The disappointments of the past three years that I experienced but buried deep in my own rationalizations of good enough should be a springboard to better times. My marriage was only for a short time what I hoped it would be. That’s what my wife says, too.

Move on. Move on. It’s what everyone tells me.

A friend wrote to me “I’ve come to the realization that it is rare that most of us are cared for by those of our choosing, and if and when it happens there’s no guarantee it will last. My personal feeling is that one is better off in their own company than with someone who doesn’t respond to them.”

Wise words.


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