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Stalled on the Road to Nowhere
Some Roads are Bumpier than Others...
As the spring of 2020 moved into summer and then fall, one thing was apparent: Covid was not going to go away. And, though some may argue otherwise, the US was handling things in some of the most misguided ways possible. Perhaps recognizing this, many countries had outright banned travelers from the US.1 Having picked Berlin as our destination, our efforts to move across the Atlantic hindered on getting a sponsored Visa from an employer. Now, my husband’s field is in high demand and his level of experience meant he was in a good position to secure that sponsorship. However! It turns out that the teams in and around Berlin that might be suitable for him to join are, apparently, coveted among those in the know. Luckily, he is incredibly charming and personable and, despite issues with severe social anxiety, he interviews well.2 After a distinctly successful round of discussions, we felt somewhat confident that it was only a matter of time before he got an offer and we’d be setting off on our journey to Germany. Then, months passed and the offers we were getting were, shall we say, less appealing than we’d been prepared for.3
Meanwhile, life under Covid was wearing away at everyone. In hindsight, it feels privileged to talk about how our lives were harder and things were more difficult, but, compared to pre-Covid, they were. We both struggle with mental health issues and my husband had received outpatient treatment to cope with an unusually prolonged depressive period prior to the pandemic. As distancing and remote work dragged on into 2021, it became harder for him to ignore a slowly growing recurrence of that depression. Adding on top of that the pressure of feeling like our only chance to move hung on his ability to “woo” a new team… well, it was getting to be too much. In late spring of 2021 we put the move on hold. Then, in the summer (just before a newly arranged round of care), we shelved the idea of moving altogether. Regrettably, while the treatment helped, it was not as impactful as his first round had been and, in the early fall, he pursued an alternative course of treatment that was recommended by his doctor.
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The course was administered over multiple sessions in a quiet, comfortable, location designed to make him feel safe and at ease. Well, for the most part… A staff member helps settle you into a cosy, but not claustrophobic, room. They’re there to chat with you before (and check in on you during) each session. Unfortunately, we encountered a staff member during the first session that was, to be diplomatic, of a different world view than us. And so, as we took deep breaths and subtly exchanged ever more raised eyebrows at one another, they chatted, then ranted, about how great the Orange one was and then, while finishing their process with us, they bragged about how much of a (disproven) Covid “cure” they’d stockpiled at home.4 At the third session, on the verge of quitting treatment because of the need to deal with this person (and their subsequent ravings), we got a lovely surprise - a new person!5 My clever husband managed to move the remaining sessions to days that coincided with the fanatic’s days off, thereby avoiding them completely for the duration. Despite the rough start, it was, thankfully, a positive and effective course of treament that left my husband feeling like he could function again.
Several weeks later, we spent a long time talking about what he wanted, what I wanted, and whether we felt we could achieve those things while staying in the US. After several days of chewing over the conversation, we agreed to put the move back on the table. Which presented a bit of a problem: if we couldn’t get a sponsor in Berlin, where the hell were we going to go?6
Next time: How to Change Your Life with a Joke.
There were exceptions, but not as many as one would like to believe.
He will disagree with most of that statement.
Do you want to move to an entirely different location than you were planning on that also happens to have an unstable, at best, economy and/or government?
Does this project that is outside of your area of expertise and in a very different, only semi-related realm of your field seem like it might be a good fit?
What if we offer you less than 60% of your salary for either of those options, while requiring that you commit to 3 years or risk large penalties?
In our defense, we were willing to make compromises, but we weren’t looking to compromise 2 or 3 out of 3 desires.
No joke - we spent the entire drive home trying to convince ourselves that it couldn’t have been as bad as each of us thought.
Who, for all we know, may have been just as unhinged, but they kept their opinions to themselves!
I am sitting in my office surrounded by stacks of nearly every type of thing imaginable. We are 20 days away from the flight to our new home and we are deep in the weeds. It’s been 9 months since my previous (and initial) post and so much has happened since then; it’s difficult not to talk about the here and now, but that’ll have to wait…