I Can’t Have It All (or Can I)

Like most people (I suppose), I’d like to have it all. I don’t like the idea of having to trade off one thing I value for another. That smacks of a win-lose scenario. I much prefer a win-win.

Yet I now find myself facing a trade off. I now find myself contemplating a move to be near you, Vera — not just you, of course. It’s your parents, too. And our family and friends in Pennsylvania. But I have to be honest: it’s primarily you.

I suppose I have only myself to blame. The wallpaper on my iPhone is a photo I took of you when we visited in early September. So now I see your adorable face every time I pick up my phone, which is a lot in a typical day. It’s a constant reminder of what I’m missing by being separated by 1,135 miles.

At the beginning of this semester at the college where I teach, I attended a college-wide conference in Fort Collins. The keynote speaker was from New York City. In customary fashion, he opened by ingratiating himself with the audience. He ran off a litany of all the wonderful things about Colorado. As if I didn’t know. In fact, I’ve previously written about some of them.

I love Colorado. I’ve never been at home anywhere like I am in Colorado. I simply can’t imagine a better place to live.

So here I am contemplating a move to Indianapolis. And I really wish I could have it all. In this instance, by “all” I mean you and Colorado. But that may not be that easy.

So what is one to do when you can’t have it all? You’d think 62 years of experience would reveal a nice, clear answer. You’d think there would be an applicable heuristic that would provide a quick, easy solution.

Perhaps there is. Perhaps I’m just too stubborn to accept the answer without a fight.

So I decided to try formulating my own heuristic. Here it is: If I had but one year to live, where would I want to spend it?

That’s easy. With your grandmother. And you. And your parents. And your uncle Andrew. And my mother and brothers and their families. And my closest friends (most but not all of whom reside in Pennsylvania, but some of whom live in Colorado, which complicates things).

But I don’t have but one year to live, you might say. But who can say? No one. Indeed, perhaps I have but a day or hour to live. We can never know.

When I apply that heuristic to my dilemma, the solution seems easy. But is the heuristic valid? Or am I merely rigging the system?

Your grandmother has pointed out that I’m being unusually indecisive. I can’t seem to make up my mind. I had decided we’d move. Then I decided we wouldn’t, but would get an apartment in Indianapolis so we could spend more time there. Or have houses in Colorado, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.

She’s right: I’m having an unusally hard time deciding what’s best. That isn’t typical for me. I’m usually decisive. But, usually, I don’t try to have it all.

Today, we’re going to drive past several lots that are for sale in Indy. But tomorrow we’ll return home to Colorado. And I’ll ponder some more, trying desperately to figure it out — ways we can live in both worlds — if that’s possible.

Earlier this week I accompanied your dad when he picked you up at daycare. I stayed back by the door while your dad approached you to greet you and put your coat on. You hugged him. And then you looked around him at me. You ran over and hugged me, too.

In such moments, it seems clear to me that I do have it all.

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