Sitting across from each other at dinner after a bad day at work, a bottle of wine sitting between us, my husband Pete and I would take turns growling about our bosses, our lengthy to-do lists and our overflowing inboxes – each gripe emblematic of a deeper discontent. “This is it!” we’d say, shaking our fists at the ceiling. “We’re dumping everything to go travel the world!”
But the next day our bosses would apologise, we’d delegate some of our work or receive a scarce bit of praise. This isn’t so bad, we’d agree, and dig back into a life that, while rage-worthy at times, wasn’t awful.
Until suddenly in 2007, it was.
The year started with promise. I had just traded one high-prestige job for another, and both Pete and I were earning six-figure salaries in Calgary’s hot job market – he was a financial controller and I was negotiating and managing large service contracts in the oil and gas industry. We had all the usual markers of success: a large house in the suburbs, foreign cars and enviable wardrobes. We paid for it with long hours spent between grey cubicle walls, and any leftover energy we could muster went into trying to conceive a child. All the persistent doubts we harboured about our lifestyle were mitigated by our healthy paychecks.