In high school, I played Jack’s Mother in Into the Woods. I love the show (somehow, still, after our production of it; it’s a resilient show, one could say that much), and one of Cinderella’s lines has always stood out as a favorite: You know what your decision is—which is not to decide.
With graduation now past, and with Andrew’s classmates heading off around the world to start the next stage of their lives, I feel very much that we’re in Cinderella’s state, flummoxed by decisions about what to do now. The most dreaded of all questions—“So, what’s next for you?”—comes our way many times a day here. Though it’s a difficult question to answer, it’s not an angst-ridden kind of difficulty; instead, it’s difficult because it’s just so unbelievably complex. Our answer depends—will depend—on a series of If this, then this…If that, then this other thing. The this’s and that’s, which will become clearer in the weeks ahead, will determine coast; home; path; landscape. Northeast or West Coast? Bustling state capital or isolated woods? Employee or self-employed? Luckily for us, the choices are all good, and not necessarily mutually exclusive; and we’re excited about the various options. But a lot of things—okay, all things—are up in the air.
Molly told me recently that she can’t talk to me about our staggering flowchart of future plans because it makes her too stressed out. And I agree: our vast landscape of contingencies is a little overwhelming. (And wedding planning is another great beast entirely.) Andrew seems to take solace in what we can’t do—i.e., force plans into shape—and is much better than I am at taking it day by day. I, for my part, try to see at least far enough into the future to make sure we won’t find ourselves without health insurance in the middle of July.
We know one thing for sure: we’re leaving Barcelona. And though we’re very, very sad, it’s begun to occur to both of us that staying on might very well start to feel like we’re the last guests to leave a party, lingering long after our welcome has worn out. There’s something to be said for staying, especially since this is a city we’ve come to love. But there’s something to be said, equally, for moving on, and starting the next thing—whatever it is—somewhere new.
In Into the Woods, Cinderella solves her dilemma by not solving it; she simply leaves a clue for her prince, stepping resolutely out of her glass slipper and brushing her hands of the whole thing. Unlike Cinderella, we’re willing—eager, even—to make our decisions. And it’s difficult to be patient while we wait for the many disparate pieces to fall into place.