california, here i come?

In 1987, three years out of college, I was living in Boston and dating Hal, who at the time was just finishing college and living with his parents in a far northern suburb. After a year of dating, and for a variety of reasons, Hal and I decided we wanted to move away from Boston; we started discussing the places we’d want to live and we agreed upon Washington, D.C. At the time, it was supposed to be a limited relocation; I kept saying I’d be in DC “a year, two at most,” and envisioned Hal and I moving on to Seattle or San Francisco, and eventually retiring together to Boston. My family just assumed–though they didn’t necessarily like it, they’d mostly come to accept that I wouldn’t (couldn’t, really, and have any real prospects for personal or professional fulfillment) return to my rural southern hometown–that I would head west.

A year later, not even two, Hal and I were no longer together, yet eighteen years since I’m still in northern Virginia. What the hell happened?

To be sure, I did almost leave once, back in 1992. I had applied for a job with an Internet service provider in the Seattle area. My interview lasted eight hours, and included a statement from my prospective boss, delivered seemingly in utter sincerity, when I asked about the twelve- to sixteen-hour days to which I’d heard some employees allude, that “oh, not everyone works those kinds of hours; X, for example, tends to work just ten and then goes home.” X, by the way, happened to be eight months pregnant at the time. I’m certainly not averse to long hours–while working at an Internet startup a few years ago, for example, I routinely worked 60- to 80-hour weeks myself–but at the time, I wasn’t sure that it was the right fit for me. At the same time, I’d just recently become involved with someone back here, and I turned down the job offer when it came. Since then, I’d sporadically applied for jobs on the West Coast, but never pursued anything very vigorously.

Then, when my dad was sickest, it seemed best to stay put, where I would be no more than four hours away by car. Since his death, though, it’s begun to feel more and more like it’s time for me to move on from here; and the chilling political climate in Virginia, especially for gays and lesbians, has only added fuel to the fire. I suspect Gene will say, as is his wont, that we’re just copying him, but the truth is that Jeff has always been clear about his intention after five years in DC–a milestone he’ll hit this summer–to head back west, and for at least the last year and a half we’ve been starting to talk about it very seriously, more recently setting summer to fall 2006 as a soft deadline. Now that we’re starting to pin it down, though, even if very loosely, I’m finding myself eager to go sooner rather than later.

Not that I don’t have some anxieties; I don’t know what it will mean to be living so close, perhaps even in the same town, as his parents, what kinds of pressures that might exert, for example (not that they’re not wonderful people; they are, but family dynamics are challenging enough even for biological family, and ours is not the typical relationship parents expect to deal with). And, unlike eighteen years ago, when I moved here from Boston without having an apartment or a job lined up, I can’t really afford to just pick up and go like that, especially somewhere that is even more expensive to live than here; I have a mortgage and car payments, and I’m eighteen years closer to retirement, things I never imagined having to worry about back when I was 25 and leaving Boston.

So, albeit perhaps prematurely, I’ve already begun to look and apply for jobs out there. I’ve completed a couple of applications for positions at Yahoo!, and I’m even looking at a lateral move to a position at another federal agency; there aren’t a whole lot of federal jobs in San Francisco, so when I saw one in my field open up last week, I decided it would be almost reckless not to apply for it.

Over the coming months, then, if you know or hear of any positions in the Bay Area for which you think I might be qualified, please let me know.

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