“What about Kyle?”
This is anywhere from the first through third question people have asked me when I have told them I am taking a job at Virginia Tech*. It makes sense. Kyle is the most fantastic man to have ever loved me, soooooo… yea. What about Kyle? But also, can we…can we just…can we just “What about Mary?” for a minute?
Sometimes “What about Kyle?” comes from an excited place of interest, ears perked with anticipation and hope that maybe we are secretly engaged and building a house in the mountains of Virginia together. Other times, there is a hint of concern, “What about Kyle? Mary, did you forget about Kyle….again?” Sometimes there are horror stories about how we might not survive the distance, or how lonely I’ll be without my man-friend.
I have spent years navigating the world of education to find a job that suits my passions and strengths. Some of those years have been spent needlessly and/or happily putting my hopes on the back burner for others. I have worked hard, and secured two graduate degrees, all while working over 50 hours a week. I have struggled, and fought and studied, and argued my way to this position. I have interviewed for countless jobs so far above, and so far below my pay grade that I’m not actually so sure what my pay grade even is anymore. And I got it. I got a thing that is exactly what I was working for.
So I’m moving to Virginia.
And there should be pages and pages of blogs to post about those feelings, except that I’m Mary and I’m not really interested in “exploring feelings”. Not today anyhow. (Stayed tuned for the binge watching of “Sex and the City” and crying into my spaghetti blog post scheduled for next weekend).
What I am interested in is drawing a firm line between what I want, and the nuclear wife machine the world expects me (and women in general) to be. It is possible for a woman to get what she wants, while also loving someone, and supporting their career. It is also possible for said woman, to know that a decision is positive for her future, even if it could put a strain on her relationships. Ideally, love should be able to withstand all anyhow, right?
Women are smart enough to make decisions for themselves. They are also smart enough to recognize that the decisions they are making could delay or eliminate the possibility of children or families. They know that moving from city to city for their career might mean that they will struggle to keep a steady relationship. They understand how buying a house on their own (read: without a man) “might look”. They know all of these things, and also know they are fully capable of navigating this world on their own.
I promise you. It’s not that we don’t give a shit about these things. These choices are hard. It’s just that we don’t give a shit what you think would be best for us.
Soooooo what about Mary?
Mary is going to Virginia for her dream job, where she will use her brain pieces and her smart bits to make thoughtful and fulfilling decisions for her life, with the support, input, and consideration of her loving boyfriend, friends, and family. But Mary is going to Virginia. And the consequences of this bold and wonderful choice won’t look any different for me, than for a man making the same choices.
I also promise you that I (and Kyle) have talked through “What about Kyle?” We’ve talked it to exhaustion, and I’m happy to say that Kyle, God love him, always ends the debate with, “But…what about Mary?”
Because, of course he does.
*I will be moving to Virginia a week from today, and will be helping faculty incorporate service into their curriculum (service learning) and working with students to redistribute campus food waste into the community through a program called Campus Kitchen.