An empty house and a job offer in a barren land
Friday, Jul. 26, 2019 - 8:34 pm.

Well, the house is looking emptier and emptier by the day. We've started packing, selling or giving away our stuff. This is helping to boost my certainty that we're leaving, and it even makes me want to leave, just a little bit, if anything because we're losing our comfort. Once the cats are gone in a couple of weeks, this place won't be a home anymore.

Last weekend, Andrew and I headed to a spa, as a belated birthday present to me. Seven months later than expected, but just as needed, we're receiving a nice massage and I'm getting my nails done. I still have some leftover shiny fuchsia on my nails, which I hope will last until tomorrow. Tomorrow's Pride here!

On that note though, I don't feel the need to go to Pride this year, compared to a few years back, when I was desperate to prove that I belonged, and thus I volunteered. I still feel only half-queer, and don't fully feel that I belong in this community, but now I can deal with it. It's going to rain tomorrow, anyway, so I may even skip the event altogether... Even though this might be the last Pride I will attend in who knows how long. There are Pride marches in Chile, but only in the bigger cities, and to much more hostile response from the non-queers.

Nevertheless, I've learned that Pride is only one way to reinforce queer identities and work towards equality, and it's not the most important way. What truly matters is what we do outside of that one day of the march. For instance, I felt like myself at my friend Eric's flat this past Thursday, when he invited Andrew and me for brunch. I left the place half-drunk and with a borrowed gay-bondage manga.

Anyway. I'm also not paying much attention to Pride this year because there's a bigger issue at hand.

This week, Andrew and I have been on a whirlwind because we're, maybe, possibly, getting a job in a place we swore we'd avoid at all costs. I've tried to make serious cognitive adjustments to digest this possibility. After all, my postgraduate life has always been about barking up the wrong tree first, and then learning to go where I'm explicitly shown that I'm wanted. And my life has been better for it, you know?

I learned to look up to the US because of historical and family reasons, so my nose always pointed in that direction. For my master's degree, I applied to US universities and scholarships for two years. Out of desperation, I then tried Chile, and I got accepted to both university and scholarship in a matter of weeks.

For my PhD, I tried -again- US universities that charged me ridiculous amounts of money to apply to their programs, and who took their time to reject me. Then I turned my head to the UK, where I was again accepted in a matter of days. No application fee needed. It has its own seriously problematic issues, of course, but I fell in love with the UK.

So, yes. I should be open to things not being the way I want when it comes to, say, start my life all over.

It's the desert, though. The fucking desert.

Andrew and I always said we'd avoid Northern Chile, but he's spent these last weeks emailing colleagues, asking them about jobs, with barely any response. Then, someone forwarded him a job offer from a university in the northernmost city of Chile.

We've both been in that city, separately; I could have been involved in a tsunami warning once, but I saved myself from the scare by one day. Anyway, the place is a breathtaking sight the first five minutes, then it gets absolutely boring and desperately barren. Like I said, desert.

Andrew also got an email from an academic in that university. He had Andrew's CV. One of the colleagues that Andrew contacted forwarded it to this academic, and he wanted to hire Andrew. Andrew said yes, and asked if there were any more positions available in that university because his partner (i.e. me) is also finishing her PhD and looking for jobs. The academic asked for my CV, and spoke wonders of the city.

Andrew kept me up to date with these exchanges. When he received the message that hinted at him getting hired, I started to cry. These were tears of misery, I felt doomed. Andrew knew this. Then he started to cry with a mixture of relief over getting a job, and remorse for betraying my, our wishes.

Look, I'm a big girl. We're both adults, so we talked it out. It's a job, a well-paying job at that; you get a bonus for living 2000 km away from basic services that are only offered in the capital city (*skull emoji*). I'll feel like crap living there, but maybe we'll like it, and at worst we'll get used to it. I told him I would not hold this against him. No other job offers are coming in, and the countdown for us leaving the UK is well on its way. Furthermore, I value our marriage over any job or location.

After our conversation, I tried to hype myself up, and it sort of worked. It's the desert, yeah, but remember I mentioned a tsunami warning? It's a coastal city, too! I've dreamed of living in one (that's even part of the plot of my fucking manuscript, which is catching up with my damn life and yet it remains unpublished). It's The City of Eternal Spring, and there's a national park somewhat nearby, and you can cross the border to visit a Bolivian city that supplies services and products that this city lacks.

Then, last night, Andrew told me he regretted rushing into this job opportunity so quickly. I was elated. I was happy he caught up with my concerns. I've tried to downplay the fact that I don't want to live there "because of the weather" (it doesn't even rain there!), or "because there are no trees". But that matters, doesn't it?! All that brings a particular lifestyle and a living environment. Plus, we've been looking at houses and apartments, and they're so fucking ugly.

Moreover, as much as we're stay-at-home people, Andrew and I are used to living in an environment that's socially stimulating. A vibrant community, as university websites say. It's good to have options to escape the routine: cafes, nature spots, cinemas, cultural spaces and events, gathering places other than bars or a stupid mall. You look at the map of the city in the desert and there's nowhere to go for a change of pace and scenery. Not inside nor outside of the city. It's just dull, all around, all the time.

There's also the social network issue. I don't mind starting over in a new place, for the third time in my life. Sure, you can always get acquaintances at the university, but with the lack of social life in that dull city, Andrew and I will only have each other. That's beautiful for us, but it's not enough for a fulfilling everyday life.

I'm grateful that Andrew's having strong second thoughts, because then we can continue looking for jobs in other (more Southern) cities. I'm feeling discouraged, though. This morning I was searching for academic jobs throughout this long-ass country, from South to North, and there were zero openings. So far, it's either unemployment in the South, or employment in the desert.

I'm in no position to be picky. The desert remains an option, and truly, it's the only concrete one we have so far. This is why it looks like I'm just following Andrew like a dutiful wife: He's the one who got the call for the job, and I have nothing better to counter offer. I could trust that something suited to our fucking refined taste will come our way if we keep searching, but there's no guarantee of that.

Next Tuesday, Andrew and I are traveling to Edinburgh to meet with our former boss. She's there for a conference, and we'll spend the night there. She taught me most of what I know about research, which got me through the PhD. She could also be a lead to a job. I dream that she still needs us, because the two of us were part of her research team, and we got shit done. But people go on with their lives when you go away, so I'd better not get my hopes up with this.

Someone's coming for our dining table in a bit. The house just got much emptier, and the cats seem very nervous around that empty space. I hope they remember, however rustically, that this means moving; it might be too much to ask that they realize there's discomfort coming, but it will be temporary. There's nothing to do but face this transition.

Update: They didn't come for the table. Now it's just there in pieces in our living room. Perfect.

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