Sunday, August 4, 2013
"Someday" is now and it feels differently than I'd expected
I live in a $347,600 four-bedroom house in a perfect neighborhood filled with tree-lined streets, doctors and college professors.
I drive a brand new $38,755 minivan -- complete with a DVD player, of course -- that has top-rated everything and a built-in mini cooler so my bottled water will never go luke warm on even the longest trip.
My king-sized bed has a luxury mattress so amazing that it cost more than my first car. My living room looks like it could be straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalog. And all of my appliances are matching stainless.
But, believe me, I'm not bragging.
Sometimes I get disgusted with it all.
Yes, we work VERY hard. Insanely hard for what we have. And usually we're tremendously grateful, feel overly fortunate and blessed, and appreciate the hell out of all of it. Moving from a century-old house in a rundown town with rusty playgrounds and dilapidated sidewalks, we felt very accomplished to take such a huge step up in a much more well-off community.
And it wasn't easy. We skimped and saved. Penny-pinched and went without. We thought it was everything we ever wanted and always dreamed of. And the timing was important because Allison will now be attending a great school district for kindergarten in the fall -- a fact I'll never overlook.
But are we happier?
Truthfully, I'm not sure.
There's something to be said about the affliction that is Keeping Up with the Joneses. I never really understood it until I suddenly felt inadequate driving a decade-old beat up SUV next to all the sparking Lexuses and BMWs parked in neighboring driveways.
Suddenly things I never cared about before became important. Like what people thought of me when I took Toby out to pee in the morning and I was in the middle of our back yard, morning hair extraordinaire, clad in paint-splattered yoga pants and a threadbare Miami Vice T-shirt Jerry picked up in a thrift store while he was in college. My personal (and officially adopted) favorite.
We don't have jobs with fancy titles. We don't have sparkling graduate degree academic accreditations framed in mahogany and displayed on the wall in our front office. We can't afford to hire a maid and have weekly lawn care service. And that mattress? One of Jerry's best radio station promotion job perks ever. Had we been buying, we would've picked a floor model with one less zero on the price tag.
As for the van, it was a complete freak occurrence after a former high school senior portrait client texted and asked to buy my old CR-V to take to college. I interpreted it as a sign it was time to literally move on. After working out the details for selling, I was convinced we would have to buy used, but low financing and dealer incentives made the payments cheaper to buy new. My first ever brand new vehicle and the excitement quickly turned to guilt. Go figure.
Instead of celebrating all of my newfound niceties in life, the very same things I used to dream of possessing with sentences that frequently included the word "someday," I now wonder if it's changing me. And maybe not for the better.
I'm not sure it's ever enough. I'm constantly evaluating what else we need. We need a new flagstone patio because the concrete is chipping and the little bits that drag in with our shoes are scratching the wood floor. We need better landscaping in the front of the house because the overgrown bushes block the light coming in my office windows. We need to replace the kitchen countertops with granite because it would really complete the space.
Vomit. Vomit. Vomit.
I was fine with our rusty gutters, weeds and peeling paint in our old house. Appearances didn't matter to me. I just wanted linoleum in the kitchen that wasn't straight out of the '70s.
So why is all of it suddenly important now? Why am I so concerned with things other than a very strong desire to keep what we have looking nice and not destroy them?
Some days I remember that I don't want to worry about whether our lawn is as well manicured as the ones that flank ours. I don't want to worry about what people think of the car that I drive. And I certainly don't want to forget what it was like living without.
I don't want to lose touch with the girl who cried because there wasn't money to pay the January heating bill. Who squatted in some friends' apartment for a few months and slept on a couch because having a bedroom would mean paying more rent. Or who worked at a bar and put up with disgusting middle-age drunk men and their occasional wandering hands between the beer taps because the tips would fund an eventual way out.
Maybe I'm just feeling guilty about all that we have. And admitting to myself that living in a nicer place has caused a slippery slope to materialism isn't easy. I also feel more guilt assuming that absolutely zero people will be able to relate to this.
Yes, I still believe that happiness is ultimately a personal decision. There is always a choice to see the good or the bad in any situation. I can sit here and focus on what other people think, whether we fit in, constantly evaluate what we need, or I can concentrate on setting those thoughts aside and do my best to focus on what's actually important in life.
One thing is for sure: Being firmly in my thirties successfully attaining most personal goals and obtaining all of the things I hoped I'd have by now doesn't feel as successful as I thought.
More, newer, faster and pricier isn't always better.
Here's to hoping that looking inward will help combat evaluating and comparing everywhere else. Because it's not -- and never has been -- me.
Posted by novelle360 at 12:20 AM