There is a particularly hilarious scene towards the beginning of Bottle Rocket in which Owen Wilson's character Dignan unveils a 75 year plan, just after springing his friend from a prolonged stay in an institution where he was hospitalized after having suffered an emotional breakdown. This will be the manifesto that will launch the characters as new men headed on a new trajectory, and they seem to embrace it whole-heartedly. It's a scene I've always loved. The 75 Year Plan is a regular off-hand, jokey reference point in our household. I used to cite it a lot to tease my husband about his Germanic penchant for planning (as in, obviously, you can't really plan for all eventualities, especially not that far in advance). I found it hi-larious.
We've been talking through and re-talking and brain-storming and deconstructing a lot of potential plans in these parts the last few weeks. There is a need for it; for some kind of plan, or at least contingency, to be in place for us. With H's contract ending in August, being the anchor that has kept us here, in this particular spot, we need to figure out a way to scrape together a living, and preferably some quality of life, come autumn. About this in and of itself, I am nervous, but not too fussed; we've always managed before, not just to survive, but usually to make an adventure of it in the process. Something will come (prettypleasethankyou). Patience is called for. I don't feel that same sense of confidence about my fertility journey though. We're on track, it seems, for IVF by the end of the year. Obviously, this would be facilitated by a sense of how things will look in the coming months. (Yes, I'm aware I'm on repeat here). But the more I think about IVF, the more uncertain I am if this is really the right path for us. And it's not just because of the logistics or the potential expense. As far as the 'right path' for our family building, I'm sifting through some big thoughts which I hope will take cogent form soon enough, but for now I'll leave it at that.
Still, it's all a lot to consider, and not the sort of stuff that will sort itself out in a matter of weeks, or even months. And this doesn't even begin to touch on the more existential
I'd love it if I actually had a crystal ball that allowed me to see what the future holds for us; I'd like to think that even if it's something difficult, I could handle it if I only knew what I was in for. If I'm destined never to raise children of my own (biological or otherwise), then let me get on with it; building the fun, adventurous, irresponsible, compensatory (yeah, right!) life that will follow for us as a childless couple. I could be good at that too. Yes, I realize none of this is that easy, and attempting to preempt the turmoil is probably no way to deal with things. I wish any of it was easy. For any of us.
Dignan's plan, a series of confusing and yet meticulous sub-categories and 10 year breakdowns all scratched out on a standard lined notepad, concludes with the reminders to 1) remain flexible and 2) consider alternatives. Fair enough. It also offers prompts for further contemplation in the form of two questions:
Why not plan ahead?
Why not continue?
(OK, so at this point it is probably also incumbent upon me to mention that Bottle's Rocket's characters are hatching a 75 Year Plan to become professional burglars. I'll add a (hopefully unnecessary) caveat that this aspect of the story is clearly in no way analogous to our life situation. Let's not invite any other, screamingly obvious, cinematic comparison here.
Anyway, where was I? Well, even if things take their sweet time to work themselves out, I can tell you that I certainly don't want to be doing this, what I'm doing now, what I've been doing
But at the same time, our own road continues to be long and winding into an unknown, unknowable future, so we will indeed place 1) remaining flexible and 2) considering the alternatives as central tenets of our own long-term plan. We may not have 75 years in which to hash out these contingencies, but perhaps that is kind of the point. Once you've faced the kind of prolonged uncertainty that loss and infertility bring* - making any long-term planning seem laughably naive - maybe the best kind of 'plan' you can make is to keep stumbling along, finding what moments of laughter you will, hoping for the best from your yearly sub-plans, recognizing that some things are out of your hands while also trying your best to grasp what opportunities come, and being proactive with the things we do have some command of.
Thinking about it now, that notion of a ridiculously unwieldy life plan stretching into the hazy middle (long?) distance...Well, it doesn't seem quite so comical anymore. Or maybe I'm just growing up.
Why not continue? Wise words indeed, Dignan. Because really, what else is there to do?
*Yes, people. I am drawing pre-celebrity Owen Wilson into an analogy with infertility and loss. Wacky and wonderful, no?