How do you decide where to live your life?

A and I are obsessed the El Paso housing craigslist. It started as a diversion from the awful, soul sucking stress of filling out fellowship and job applications and now has turned in to a full time hobby. We compete to see who can find the best listing, and each one we find is endlessly delightful. A four bedroom single family home in the suburbs for $900 a month?! A downtown loft with exposed brick for $1,000? We map the closest coffee shops, gyms, and bougie amenities. This is all despite the fact that we could just as easily end up in one of six places we're applying for jobs other than El Paso and if we had a four bedroom house we would have to get two more cats and give each one their own room to fill up the space.

Marveling over affordable housing is keeping us sane, because right now we're lingering on the edge of the start of careers and have no idea where we're going.

I am not a spontaneous person and I'm really bad at not having a plan. But right now, A and I are in the ultimate place of plan-less suspended animation. In that neither of us know where we're taking the bar, where we will have a job, and where we will live after we graduate in a little over six months. We have each foot in a different door. We have a few serious contenders in places where we have (lets be real, where A has) applied for jobs, and they have nothing in common other than the fact that they have great holistic public defender programs and are currently hiring.  Public defenders are kind of unique in that they hire "classes" of incoming Public Defenders, as opposed to hiring one person here and there to fill a vacancy. They also have really intense hiring processes with multiple levels of interviews each increasing in hostility (to test how you will react to being potentially bullied by DAs and judges in court, I assume). While A is applying to every single job in America, I have applied to one single solitary fellowship that is such a long shot that I couldn't help but laugh when I sent off the application. Don't get me wrong, it really is a dream job, but fellowships are very competitive and tend to go to people graduating from top tier brand name law schools. 

We're graduating from like... a school that is still  well-respected in the public interest world,  but certainly not recognizably impressive. We're Trader Joe's, not Whole Foods. So our potential future lives are limited to places where there are great PD offices and where there are immigration non-profits that are hiring.

I'm gunning hard to get back to the southwest, but stupidly and unsurprisingly, there are not that many immigration nonprofits actually on the border, because no one in their right mind wants to live there. I am not in my right mind, obviously, and can't wait to get back to cultivating a cactus garden that will be the envy of my neighbors. I am pretty much certain that my entire future is in El Paso and I've only spent 24 hours there, and that was with comically serious missionaries who refused to talk to A and I because of, I'm assuming, our satanic lesbian lifestyle. Or they were really shy? Unsure, but it was weird. 

And yet, late at night during our 24 hours in El Paso, A and I awkwardly stood on a stranger's porch in the apartment complex where the friend we were staying with lived and looked over the lights of Juarez, Mexico with its yellow halogen  burning against the desert blackness and in that moment I knew that El Paso was for me. Two cities cut in half by the violence that is the border wall and I fell in love. What can I say, I love a militarized zone.

El Paso isn't our only option and the other cities we are considering are disturbingly far away from my beloved prime cactus cultivation zone: NYC; Boston; D.C; and possibly somewhere in Alabama. In my dreams we are also considering Tucson, but neither of us can find any jobs to apply for there.  

We're both kind of terrified that we are destined to end up in NYC, because that's where there is funding for the work both of us want to do, but its not nearly as fun and one billion times more stress inducing to look at the NYC craigslist. A and I may be the only twenty-somethings on earth who remain completely uninterested in the New York lifestyle, but that's just one more reason why we're perfect for each other, I guess. If NYC is the bridge we have to cross to get to our future, we'll deal with that when it comes, but for now, we're dreaming of El Paso, and a future in which we have a beautiful old, wood floored house for half the rent we pay now. 

 

Our current view from our porch.
Downtown El Paso, when we visited earlier this year.
Tucson