“Well,” he said. “There’s an opportunity they’d like me to interview for.”


“Not close.”

This is happening with increasing frequency, because my husband is very good at his job. He works for a very large corporation known far and wide for their achievements in the field of denim and khakis. He’s advanced quickly, and they seem to be going through a period of not knowing what to do with him next.

Previously, we’ve made tentative plans about Honolulu, Chicago, and Seattle. I don’t know if I have the energy for another “What if?” scenario. My sister married into the Air Force and hasn’t had to deal with this much uncertainty. It’s a real pain in the ass, to tell you the truth.

I’ve been in Atlanta for 12 years. It’s the only place I’ve ever known life as an adult. We have friends, careers, a house with an upside-down mortgage. Our dog has a back yard. This is home. I explained all this in response to the latest opportunity, which would once again shake up our lives for six to eight weeks while he went through the interview process.

“But what if I don’t pursue it, and I really was the right person for the job? And even if I don’t get it, I’ll be introduced to more people who can keep me in mind for something later. So there’s nothing lost in the pursuit,” he counters.

He’s so sensible and smart sometimes you just wanna slap him.

I gave my blessing, expressed my willingness to follow him to the ends of the earth as long as it’s a decent theatre town where the dog has her own patch of grass, and got back to my chopping. But we were not done. The job interview, it turned out, was his opening statement.

“We’ve always said Atlanta wouldn’t be home forever, you know.”

“I know,” I said, not terribly sure I really knew that. I mean the idea of living elsewhere, later, down the road, sure. I can accept that. I can’t picture it, but I can accept it.

“Well,” he continued. “When would you see that happening? A year? Five? Twenty?”

“Hadn’t thought about it in those terms.”

“Why don’t we? I just wanna know where your head’s at, Darlin’.”

It comes down, in the end, to facts. Our marriage isn’t legal here, and won’t be until the Supreme Court or an act of Congress requires it, because Atlantans have a habit of forgetting we are living in Georgia. I only really think about it when I run out of vodka on a Sunday.

Every literary agent I’ve ever gotten to read one of my plays has told me flat-out I need to move to a different market. I’m one of the most-produced playwrights in this city and I’ve only had three plays in 12 years that I didn’t personally lose money from having them produced. I’m not saying it would be better elsewhere, but it’s looking unlikely that it’ll get much better here.

We’re young and healthy enough to go anywhere, pursue any dream, and we’re staying put in a state that doesn’t particularly want us, both doing jobs where we strain for achievement.

That’s how our plan changed. If he gets the job, we go. If he doesn’t, we are on a two-year deadline to get the hell out and find whatever comes next.

We have put ourselves on notice: Nobody wants to be the last ones to leave the party, and the time has come to start planning for our graceful departure.


Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find out more at topherpayne.com.

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