Space. Empty. No clutter. No things that demand dusting, sorting, cleaning. No responsibilities to inanimate objects bought in the mistaken idea that they would provide happiness.
The desire to acquire untold riches was killed in me. It died off, a natural death and I think as a process of getting older and much wiser.
In my twenties, I spent my time looking for relationship, for marriage and children, all the while existing on a meager paycheck that paid the basics and left me enough to buy a book on payday.
In my thirties, I had my family – a child of a whole year and a husband of 4 years. I had a new home in a new town and a new state. I worked for clothes. Seriously, I worked so I could buy clothes to wear to work. Idiotic.
In my forties, in a new city and state, I no longer worked for other people, but for myself. I didn’t make a lot of money, but enough to add to the kitty each week and to buy the extras. Piano lessons for DS, a piano from a garage sale for $50, the movers to move the piano, the piano tuner, trips to North Carolina and Paris, France. Money was not short in my forties.
In my fifties, my husband had been retired for three years. The difference between working money and pension money was extreme. Balancing the costs of normal expenses with the reality of a fixed income much less than pre-retirement was difficult ……….. until I learned something.
I learned that we didn’t need much. We had spent my forties and DH’s fifties buying everything we wanted. We didn’t need new “stuff”. Before he retired and we moved to another new place and even a new country, I even bought 10 pairs of Birkenstocks, most on sale, knowing I wouldn’t be able to afford them later. I also bought us all clothes that would be appropriate for our new, colder location. We had plenty of stuff.
We moved to a large house on 22 acres on a remote Island off the coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I have remarked upon my dislike of that place many times. It was an unwelcoming community, with disdain for people from away. Away to them meant anywhere not there. Even if you were born there and went away to earn money (because there was no money to be made there) and returned, you were shunned. This attitude killed my happiness that being in the country on 22 acres with an 8 acre pond, in a large ranch brought. We were outcasts. I seriously had to look in the mirror to see what was wrong with me.
I spotted the fact that I didn’t like them either. They were strangely ill-educated in the ways of the world. They knew nothing other than the place they were. Most of them had only traveled as far as over the bridge or on the ferry.
They always asked “Where are you from?” or “Where were you born?” and I would answer without thought, “Civilization.”
They had not lived in any other house than the one in which they were born. They did not have “stuff” as we had stuff. The flea market, which DH insisted on visiting, contained nothing that I would not have thrown out. As a garage-sale fanatic, estate sale attendee, I was disappointed. I had haunted estate sales in Grosse Pointe weekly. I would even arise at 4 a.m. in order to drive to the house where the estate sale was located and get my number from the group of estate sale attendees who ran that sort of lottery. I enjoyed me a good estate sale ………. I reveled in them. I wallowed in them.
In my fifties, we moved again. Thank.God. We got off the Island. We moved to mainland America. We bought a home on two floors, not the most convenient for aging people, but it was our kind of house in the way the newer ranch we had lived in was not. Our home has charm. It is a home, not a house. The house on the Island was just a house. It was never a home, even to those who bought it from us – they left it after 3 years and sold it to another family who has probably decided to get away from it by now.
I found that having money isn’t normal here. We don’t go to garage sales or much visit the resale shops unless to donate stuff that needs to go. We don’t need more stuff. Except yarn and fabric and needles of course. We don’t require a lot of food, but we do require heat which costs thousands of dollars. We need only heat, some food and some small purchases for hobbies, to keep us busy.
In my sixties, I have lived through my husband’s illness and his move to a nursing home once I knew I could not keep him from falling and hurting himself. Once I knew that he couldn’t get upstairs without too much effort. Once I knew he needed more help, as did I.
In my sixties, I arrived at the day when the government started paying me back for all of my social security taxes. I have a check now that floats into my account once a month. A check which makes the difference between poverty and enough. I love that check.
I quit wanting to give my life up for money in my 30s and 40s. I decided that I didn’t want to work for clothes or to pay for child care. I decided that being at home raising our son and cooking and quilting and reading and sewing and playing was much to be desired. A large bank account was not worth the stress and strain of being out there hunting for it. It wasn’t worth the strain of dealing with office politics, jealousy and downright meanness. It just wasn’t worth it.
My desire for money was slaughtered by the urge to be real …………. I’m glad I killed it.