Today, I attempted to sign up for my summer schedule. It didn’t go as I’d hoped, but I still have a chance at mapping out a summer that will allow for loads of time off. Like last summer, Ray and I want to do so much camping and adventuring. There’s still so much of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest that we both want to see, and as I am able to align my schedule with his, we should be able to scheme and plot and plan to go just about anywhere.
I just competed a book called Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty by Jennifer M. Silva. This book, a read I highly recommend, touched on so many things that are relevant to my life and experiences. From avoiding adulthood through constant education, realizing my degrees aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, having to reconcile my past with my present, and redefining stages of adulthood that are unlike any measurements that generations before me have ever used, this book really got my head spinning.
I’ve been struggling to accept that I’m a blue-collar worker. I know that sounds classist, but the fact is, I was led to believe that a degree (or two) would be my pathway to living a class better than my parents. I mortgaged my brain with student loans, but have not been able to reap the expected benefits of doing so. While I don’t regret the college and graduate school experiences I’ve had, I still feel as though I’ve been slighted. All of this has come into even stronger relief as I watch Ray go through the same adjustment in his life. While he managed to skirt around taking out too many student loans, and is a little better off than I am, fiscally-speaking, he still feels like his life was short-changed because of forces outside of his control, namely the 2008 recession and its prolonged drag on the creative economy he once belonged to. For him, it’s become clear that to be a member of the creative class means having fiscal support from a benefactor, whether it’s a parent paying rent, or a partner with deep pockets. It’s frustrating not being able to provide enough for both of us in a way that would enable him to achieve his goals, and given my current station in life, I’m not sure it will ever be possible.
While we are leading a pretty amazing life as a couple, and as individuals, money and such seems to be a constant worry and concern. I only hope it can improve. I want him to find a path forward that appeases him and leaves him feeling good at the end of the day. I want to be able to share in this sense of happiness knowing I’ve done my part to support him. I’m not certain, though, that this will ever materialize.
We will persevere. It’s going to be a series of conversations and concessions on both our parts to make this all work out. As touched upon in the book, our relationship isn’t a matter of set roles and expectations that have been mapped out for us. Instead, it’s a situation that is constantly in flux, and remembering to remain flexible is at the heart of what keeps us going strong. It’s not always easy, and it does require work, but it is fulfilling. So long as we remain open and honest with our individual needs and keep making incremental progress towards shared and individual goals, we will last.