When it comes to staying or going, turns out we don’t always get a choice. Many of you know that back in December, we were ready to get the heck out of Chile. We were pretty beat up from our first few months here and the end of the semester/Christmas really got us thinking about going home. Sure, we knew that we were still in the thick of it and that the first year was bound to be so hard. And we realized that leaving Chile after just one year would mean we put in a lot of effort to move all the way down here without gaining some of the things we came for (language fluency for us and a base for Rayna, plus real relationships and immersion). We prayed about it and asked for direction, and though we wanted the option to peace out, we got clear direction that we were meant to stay. No, it wasn’t a celestial voice from the clouds, but a far more tangible message: no job offers came in from the universities Jeff applied to. That was humbling and hard, but also a gift in that we didn’t have to weigh options at all. The choice to stay was the only one we had.
This month, we faced a similar though much less dramatic stay or go conundrum. Our lease is up in May and we decided we should change apartments. While we love our building, being near the mini-mountain Cerro San Cristobal, and especially our friends here in Providencia, we could really use some more space. It would be nice to have room for two people in the kitchen and not having to use our guest bathroom as a storage closet would be sweet. Plus, our current place needs some renovations, and it will be a major pain to get those done. I was inspired by ads for bigger, similarly priced apartments, and laid all my best arguments out to convince Jeff that our best choice was to move immediately. Because he didn’t want to have to deal with the renovations, he agreed that it made sense to move. In classic Jeff-is-the-best fashion, he overlooked the fact that a move would add to his commute, put him farther away from his mountain bike circuit, and cut him off from our building friend support-network. I was thrilled and emailed our current landlord to let her know we were giving our 30 day notice. Later in the week, Rayna and I visited an apartment that met all of our specs and was available for our move-in date. It seemed like it was just too good to be true. It was all happening really quickly and we started telling our friends we were moving in May. Upon updating my parents, I mentioned that somehow it didn’t seem real, because it had all gone too smoothly.
Thennnnn, our current landlady emailed back and said we would be breaking our contract if we moved.
It’s a long story, but she was both technically right and absolutely wrong in this position. We were floored. What kind of person FORCES a family to stay in an apartment when there are very good reasons to allow them to move? When they gave more than the required notice? When she planned to raise the rent but didn’t tell them how much until after the date they would have to have given her renewal notice by?! We crafted a response email that was sure to enlighten her about how wrong she was (confession: when things get this weighty, we use google translate…terrible, I know!). She shot back a not-so-nice reply that was clearly NOT enlightened. We were furious and she got another reply from me that made me feel like I had put on my lawyer pants and sought justice.
And then, out of nowhere, my heart shifted and my head cleared. I explained to Jeff that we could either face a lawsuit if we moved out or stay in the apartment for six more months. Obviously, we needed to stay. I admitted that I had been pushing the move even though I had my doubts about how wise it was, and that the benefits of staying where we’re at for the next season were worth dealing with the tight quarters. While we’d need to deal with the renovations, we’d get to keep our sweet neighbors and our great access to the city and the trails. I had prayed for guidance about this move too; as it turned out, the direction came from a very expected source, but was clear and helpful nonetheless.
Sometimes, I have the urge to just GO, change things, fill up my days with chaos. This typically happens when I’m trying to avoid feeling lonely and stagnant, but there are other ways to address those challenges. Fortunately, life doesn’t always let me dive into all the madness, and for now, it appears I shall stay. What a blessing that is.
P.S. Credit to the Clash for the title, though I’ll admit, I had to google it!