It wasn’t the resistance that bothered Jane, it was the pressure that went with it. She expected Philip to resist her suggestions, but she had not anticipated his attempt to relentlessly persuade her to do the exact opposite of what she was advising.
“Give up your job,” he kept saying every time she gently but firmly entreated him to become more responsible in his own chosen field.
“Just quit,” he’d say, then grin. “That’s much better than what you’d have me do – knuckle down and embrace work that I detest.”
“I can’t quit,” she said. “How would we pay the electric bill? And by the way,” she added, “that is why I think knuckling down isn’t a bad idea for you.”
Philip had a way of raising one eyebrow to quite an impressive height. “I am telling you what I want to do and you’re telling me what I should do. There’s an inequality there we might need to explore.”
“I am simply focused on survival,” Jane snapped. “Something you seem to have decided isn’t all that important.”
“I have decided that our current manner of survival is untenable,” Philip said, opening the fridge and reaching for the orange juice. “I am dying here – metaphorically, of course, but perhaps physically as well if I keep doing work that I loathe – and you won’t even think of shifting and changing. I say let’s both quit our jobs and head off somewhere new.”
Jane glared. “I think this is not the time for such a flight of fancy. The economy is in the toilet and we are barely holding on to our house and our cars and this life we’ve built for the past 23 years and you’d have us pretend we’re teenagers off on an adventure. That is just plain irresponsible.”
“What’s irresponsible is to spend another day living this miserable existence. We have plenty of time left to rebuild and have some actual fun. Let’s just stop this madness and begin anew. What is wrong with a little adventure and hope, after all?”
“What about our children?”
“Our children are grown. We are free now.”
“What about our friends here?”
“Our friends are as miserable as we are. Maybe it’s time to shake things up.”
“But what about our health insurance? We could get sick and then what?”
“We will do what half the country does. We’ll head off to the hospital, get treated, and then pay off our debt slowly.”
“But where would we live?”
“Our van is plenty big for an extended camping trip.”
“But why can’t we just continue to do what we’ve been doing? Is it so bad?”
“We can’t because it’s all stopped working. I hate my job because it’s dead-end at this point. It’s only a matter of time before I’m either fired or laid off. Yours is one step behind mine. Let’s be proactive, not reactive. It could actually be fun.”
Jane stared out the window. “Where would you want to go?”
Philip strode over to the desk, pulled out a map, and folded it in half. “Close your eyes and point. We can go anywhere in the Southern U.S. Up north is out because I hate the cold and the heating bills will be too high.”
Jane opened her eyes to see where her finger had landed. “The coast of Texas? What’s down there?”
Philip hopped up and danced around the room. “Perfect. It’s warm there almost year round. Now go get a suitcase, darling, and I’ll grab the dog. It’s time to go.”
Jane was shaking her head when she rose from the chair. “Will I need a coat?”
“We’ll buy one at Goodwill, if need be.”
“We could actually do this?” Jane was surprised at the excitement in her voice.
“Look at you,” Philip said, hugging her. “You’ve shed ten years in seconds. Now, off you go.”
Jane headed for the bedroom to gather up her clothes. She wouldn’t take much. Philip was right. It was time for them to make a change before time and circumstances made the change for them. She reached into her drawer, pulled out her swimsuit, and smiled.