It’s been an intense year. In June, my partner and I ran off to Vegas and got married. In August, we closed on our house. In October, I took the Professional Engineer’s exam. That’s three huge life events in the space of four months and five days. To be honest, I’m still processing it all. It feels like it hit me all at once, and I haven’t had time to really digest one before it was time to focus on the next, along with my usual work, parenting, etc. It is all good, of course, but it’s a lot.
We flew home five days after our wedding, having had a fun honeymoon in Vegas, and I returned to work a week after that. I remember thinking to myself as I walked down the hallway that first morning with my brand new alexandrite ring on my finger, “I just did this huge thing, and now I have to come back and design bridges as if nothing has changed.” If you think about it, that’s completely accurate. We try to create buffer zones, to hold space, to give our important life events the respect they deserve, but in today’s society, that hardly exists. That’s no dig at my employer. I have it better than most. It’s just the way society is now. I would have loved a month to just be a wife to this husband, let it sink in what we just did, I’m not even sure what else, but something. I needed more time for something.
The house was more rushed yet. A honeymoon is a known entity, but a homeownermoon doesn’t really exist, although it should. Can we make that a thing? Even if it did exist, I didn’t have the leave time for such a thing, just two months after taking two weeks off. Plus, there were bridges to design, plans to be sent out, training classes I couldn’t miss. I took a total of two days off for the entire home buying and moving process. This took a toll. We’re still not unpacked. Honestly, if I had a week of leave to spare, I would take it for this purpose, even now, because we need it badly. We keep saying that we need a week with nothing else to do but house stuff, and we’d have it done easily. The problem is, where are we going to get a week? We just bought a house, finally can join our lives and possessions in a home, two years after we moved in together in our little apartment. Yet, instead of devoting the time this needs, I’m at work, designing bridges as if nothing happened.
Last but not least came the PE exam. I am incredibly fortunate that my employer values licensure of their engineers enough to provide a very comprehensive course of preparation to us all for the three months prior to the exam, and designate the week of the exam exclusively for study. For three months, we go to work only three days a week because the remaining two days are for prep classes only. It’s wonderful, and I think the week I had leading up to the PE exam may be among the most relaxing I’ve had in months. I went into the exam feeling refreshed and laser focused. I feel like it went ok. I’m still really anticipating receiving the results in a couple months, and won’t feel fully ok until I do (providing I passed), but I don’t feel badly about it.
On Monday, I walked into my office for the first time in a week, and the first Monday in three months (Mondays were prep class days). I felt much like I had felt coming back after I got married. I just tackled one of the biggest and most important milestones of my engineering career, and now I have to come back and, well, be an engineer like everything is normal. Everything is not normal, though. Everything will not be normal until I find out how I did, and get my license application approved by the board, and receive my seal with my name on it.
I am in some weird place between peacefully satisfied and low-key losing my mind because so much has happened lately and I haven’t had a chance to just sit with any of it. There are bridges to design, kids to raise, school functions to attend, groceries to buy, and everything else that goes into daily life. It’s all anyone can do to just roll with the punches. I’m no workaholic. I never work more than 40 hours a week. This is just how it is.
I wonder what next year will be like. I will have my PE license, and will probably never take another exam again as long as I live (providing I passed this one). We already bought our house, and have no plans to move. We aren’t planning a wedding. I hope that there will be time to relax and just be, to take vacations, this time without the knowledge that we’re coming back to mortgage brokers, and exam prep courses, and moving coordination. If all I have to do when I come back, is design a bridge or two, I can handle that.
For all my adult life, I’ve had this massive glaring to-do list over my head like a cartoon anvil, and known that I would not consider myself to have my shit together until I had checked all of it off. Get a job I can keep forever. Buy a house. Get my PE license. I guess it all felt insurmountable for all the years I was stuck in my first marriage, getting farther and farther from what I knew I needed to do, that I never really believed I could do it all. And then I did, but most of it happened so fast that it didn’t really hit me until later that I had done it.
Then I woke up the next morning, went to work, and designed a bridge, as if nothing were the matter at all.