She Wears the Pants

We left the US seven months ago. Transferred to her firm’s new office in London, my wife had been tasked with helping build her San Francisco-based employer’s European presence. Having taken the job with the expectation of eventually being placed abroad, we were immensely gratified. We were leaving San Francisco, finally, as we’d hoped. Not just to Europe, but to London, with guaranteed employment.

Unfortunately, we never got to enjoy the UK. Departing during the second week of the credit crunch, (amidst a parallel meltdown within my wife’s company, no less), Jennifer’s firm completely destabilized. Unable to buy simple things like staplers and stationery, and provide monitors for the staff to work on, it appeared as though we’d made a terrible choice. We’d moved six thousand miles only to get laid off, or so it seemed.

That never did happen, though Jennifer and her colleagues came exceedingly close to being sent home. The fear of being shut down, however, never quite went away, and we spent six months with our bags unpacked, without any of our belongings, looking for a way out. Jennifer’s former boss did little to dissuade us otherwise, advising us to not ship our container into London upon its arrival in Southampton last November.

When Jennifer finally landed a new gig, in Italy, it was the first time we felt like we’d really arrived. Not in the metaphorical sense, but a literal one. Unlike many similar companies, the firm that hired Jennifer had the stability she was looking for, and had maintained an active European presence for over three decades. There was no new ground to break, or learning curve to master. Despite the horrible economic climate, this company still had its hands full. We could move to Milan in good conscience.

We’ve spent the last two weeks looking back on our past half-year, and marveled at how we managed to survive. Everything that could have gone wrong did. Everything that could be extrapolated about the collapse of the Anglo-American economy seemed to manifest itself in our lives. Though we bear no ill-will towards Jennifer’s former firm, we feel immensely relieved to be outside its troubled grip, and finally on dry land.

My wife’s determination to perservere, and to continue to enjoy a career she’s spent nearly two decades cultivating never ceases to amaze me. I know very few people who’ve stayed such a course, for so long. Jennifer’s strength and focus definitely saw us through. Even more amazing was her desire to remain abroad, and not return to the US, despite how bad everything is, everywhere. Sometimes, you know you’re right, irrespective of the circumstances. Jennifer’s conviction has always been its own reward. The rest is gravy.