So I've reached a kind of a decision.
The decision is this. If, in two or three years or so (see, it's only "kind of" a decision at this point), the academic profession is not permitting me to live the kind of life that I want to live, I am allowed to leave it and pursue something else. And not--importantly--to feel like I have failed.
Sometimes I simply marvel at people who get to live wherever they want (with their partners, near their families and/or friends) and find work. I'm not desperate yet, and I can wait a couple more years to live with my boyfriend and maybe start a family. But the thought of doing the wandering-scholar thing for more than a few years, and always struggling with visits and the question of when we'll finally be able to be together--well, that thought is discouraging. So I need to decide now that there is a way out, that I can get another job and still have a good life, even if I never end up taking that route.
(Caveat: This doesn't mean that I'm buying into the notion that I, The Woman in our couple, is the only one who might have to compromise. I am fortunate to have a partner who feels pretty much the same way about his career; he actually (partially) left academia in order to have more control over his professional future. He's still somewhat limited in where he'll be able to live, but basically he just needs to be in or very close to some kind of major urban center. And I know that he's willing to move for me. So it's not that I'm coming to terms with the idea that I might have to abandon my career for his, but rather that there's something comforting in remembering that there are other things I might like to do, and that it is not worth sacrificing the goodness in my life in order to VAP around the country indefinitely.)
I'm not in a pessimistic mood, or anything. I actually feel good about my chances on the market over the next few years, and I believe that I will get a decent job in a liveable location before too long. (Delusion? Hope is necessary.) But it's important for me to remember that this career is a choice, and that that choice can be unmade if I want it to be. It makes me happy. It reminds me that my life is chosen, and that it's mine.