It is something I've been mulling over for a while now, going over it in my head, again and again.
To go or not to go?
I told The Man a few days ago that part of the reason I managed to do a lot of stuff when I was a little younger was that I simply didn't spend much time mulling over things. If I decided I wanted to go somewhere or do something, I'd just do it. Rather than trying to figure things out ahead of time, I trusted in my ability to figure things out along the way and usually, this is exactly how things happened: I'd go off do things, stuff would happen, I would deal with the stuff as it came along and... done.
So I didn't necessarily know how I'd do things before I started them - I just knew that I'd do them.
But now things are different. For one, The Man has a very different approach to problem-solving than I do: his style is to discuss, think, throw different scenarios in the air and see if we can come up with solutions to most of them, and by the time we get to the end of this process, I have usually lost the passion to do whatever we were wanting to do to begin with.
(Whilst I can pull off a certain - and sometimes impressive - amount of think-ahead planning, in general I'm just not a 'plan ahead' sort of a girl... and never have been. In general, I'm the "let's do it" girl, and have learnt to cope with that, just as my husband has.)
Over time we have learnt to cope with this difference in our attitudes by balancing: I do a little more planning than I am comfortable with, and he lets go of a little more than he's comfortable with, and we meet in the middle. It's how a lot of the questions in this house get solved. (It's either that, or just leaving the other one out of the discussion to simply spare some energy and sanity, and with small things it works just as well.)
Another thing is the fact that now our actions impact many more people than just ourselves; in the closest circle of 'impactees' are us with The Man, and our two children. A level below that are a variety of family and friends scattered around the globe.
So either trying to think things through ahead of time (like The Man) or just doing things and hoping for the best (me), either way it's cumbersome now.
And the thing we've been mulling over is this: to leave Christchurch or not? To go to Invercargill (or Dunedin) or not?
With a saved-up money towards a home deposit hovering somewhere around $20,000 New Zealand dollars at the moment, we're at a stage where realistically we aren't in a position to buy a house in Christchurch quite yet. For about $300,000 there are some houses available, yes, and we've had a look at some on the internet and some even in person, but... they've either been in very, very questionable areas, or in very, very questionable conditions, or both.
What we are wanting from a house we'd buy is a whole different (and a long!) topic on its own, so I won't go into it for the moment, but the bottom line is that in Christchurch, at current prices it is simply not happening and going for the market price is what neither me nor The Man are comfortable with, for a variety of reasons, in addition to the fact that we wouldn't get a loan of that amount at current circumstances anyway.
Which is one of the reasons we've been looking away from Christchurch, as the need for a home is something both me and The Man are quite passionate about.
But it's more than just real estate.
Last year I attempted to study quantity surveying through New Zealand's Open Polytechnic, which is an accredited distance learning facility, and quite a big one at that.
I write 'attempted' because after a few months of trying to study there, I quit. Again, there is a whole plethora of reasons, but the main ones were the fact that at the time, I had a young, breastfeeding baby at home with me; I was struggling at a house which had intermittent water supply and ended up in court with my landlord over the matter; I was unimpressed with the quality of study materials which I spent a lot of energy trying to work with (I have now learnt that I was one of the last people to enrol on that program and they have since restructured the whole diploma) and it simply got too much to bear all at once. I would put my kids to bed at 7 o'clock at night, take out my study stuff to sit behind the table until 9-9:30 pm, and then I'd go to sleep, knackered, and the next day I would do the same.
Which is why, in the end, I didn't end up passing even those first few classes, and have not taken out any more since.
Instead, I've looked into ways of studying quantity surveying through an actual school, with classes and teachers and people I can ask questions from, without having to wait a day or two to be replied to by e-mail, and I've kept coming against the fact that whilst I have The Girlie who is not yet eligible for any government funding as far as her daycare costs go, if I went to school now I would not only have to take out a student loan to pay for tuition (or withdraw money from a house deposit fund, which I am unwilling to do), but I would also have to pay for daycare costs which at this stage, with The Kid being 4 and The Girlie 1, are not insignificant. (All that whilst The Man is doing consistent 50+ hour work weeks to support us financially.)
And so I've been keeping trying to figure out how to achieve a balance of sorts where we get to live in a dry, safe home; have time to spend amongst ourselves; do things we have interest towards; sustain ourselves financially. How to live happily, basically.
The reason I've considered Invercargill is because its polytech, the Southern Institute of Technology, has a zero tuition fee programme. Being able to study without having to pay tuition (thus saving approximately $6,000 a year) still means I'd have to take out a student loan - if need be - to cover the costs of childcare whilst I am at school, but it would be much more manageable, financially, and Invercargill's real estate (when compared to incomes) is more affordable than Christchurch's.
And that would get me to a diploma within 2 years, as opposed to 4 years whilst trying to study in the evenings through the Open Polytech and losing the precious evening hours.
So, on many levels, it makes a lot of sense.
Except, on other levels it just sounds like a load of bollocks yet again.
I have started to really like Christchurch. Really. I used to travel through and think of it as that boring, smoky English town where I only ever came because it was in the middle of the South Island and buses travelled through it, but now that I have lived here for 3 years in the midst of post-earthquake rebuild, I have started to really like it.
In fact, it may be that it's precisely the post-earthquake rebuild that has made me like it so much better than before, and the fact that it doesn't get as smoky any more in winter since government set limits of wood-fuelled log burners.
Now I keep discovering more and more aspects of Christchurch I really enjoy, and I think to myself, "Really, Maria? You're gonna leave now? This?"
Another is the fact that I now have friends here. Real, close friends. I have - almost by accident - happened to rent a house in a neighborhood which I would happily keep living in, for it has a strong network of neighbors who help each other, and talk, and strong schools - if it weren't for the fact that houses cost so bloody much now.
Over the last year I have discovered that Christchurch's hospital is very well equipped to deal with The Kid's therapy and assessments, and we have a strong support team. The Kid's orthotist makes excellent support braces for his feet (she used to do Manchester United's when she was in UK ;)), his physiotherapist is an intelligent, fun-loving and professionally experienced woman who understands the need of weaving physiotherapy into The Kid's days, rather than the other way around; I have enjoyed working with almost everyone on the team, and there has now been many people involved.
What's more, I now have confidence that if we come across any other areas we need support with, the support is either there or I will find a way to get it. I think I understand how Christchurch's healthcare system is set up. I know my way around it.
And, we live near a school where I know other people's children of similar circumstances have been happy and supported.
If we move to Invercargill, I will get to do my 2 years of study which will then open up the opportunities to move on with my professional life, and it will relieve The Man of such financial responsibility as he's been carrying over the last 3 years.
But I also know that if we do that, The Kid would start school there, and then if we decide to move elsewhere again, he'd have to be pulled out of school and started elsewhere, again. Hi thrives on strong, loving relationships.
At this stage I don't know anyone in Invercargill. I know that a friend's sister lives there, and that's about it. I don't know how well their hospital system is set up, I don't know the quality of their therapists, I don't have anyone to call and ask to babysit our kids whilst me and The Man go on much-needed date nights which we have finally started doing.
And it is such a responsibility to think about all that, when the people that are involved are not just me, but my husband, my son, my daughter; there's even a dog now.
Either way we choose to live, something has to be let go so that something else has space to come in.
But how do I put things in order, how do I know what's ahead of what?
Sometimes it sucks being an adult.
PS. Yes, I know, children are resilient. But still...
PPS. Recent photos from the beach. By the time I got these two out of their wetsuits and into proper clothes back at the car, I knew I'd end up having to vacuum the whole car given the amount of sand in it.
I was right.