If you've ever read, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom, you know that when you die, you get to stay, at least for a while, in a place that made you happy. When Eddie dies, he reunites with his wife, Marguerite, in a dressing room. She's in a bridesmaid's dress, waiting for a wedding to begin. She said the hope, that promise of beginning a new life, always captivated her. Given the disappointments she faced in marriage, you could see why she stayed in the day, just before the wedding, with the possibility that anything could happen and everyone was so happy.
Sally thinks that heaven is a place where everyone is a child again. You get to pick the age you want to be, but it must be a child. That sounds lovely to me. I wish I could meet my daughter as a child-I know we'd be best friends. My husband too. Although Sally and I would surely bully him, or at least torment him a little.
I think that if I go to heaven, it's going to be like a Saturday afternoon in September. The temperature so nice you don't even notice it. The afternoon sun slanting in through the dining room windows. And everyone just relaxing, curled up in a chair or taking a nap. There's something about a Saturday afternoon that just seems like time stands still. Saturday chores are done and you don't yet have to think about getting ready for Monday. You can do anything on Saturday night, but right now it's just time to curl up and not think about anything. Eventually, I'll get up and have to start dinner, but for right now it's enough. And feeling enough always feels like heaven to me.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Sally says that if she had "just the right amount of money," she would be happy. I confess I think this too, sometimes, and I'm not 7. My wish is a little more specific, as in "If I had my own home," or "If I had money to travel more," or even, "If I had a retirement plan," I too would be satisfied. This often leads me to envy, bitter envy sometimes if the truth be told. I judge people on how they care or don't care for their possessions, as in, "If I had a house, I'd never do X, Y, or Z." So far this doesn't seem to effect Sally, who is a pretty happy kid overall and doesn't seem to be jealous of anyone or anything.
Truth be told, I like our life very, very much. I like our apartment. I also like not having to shell out money when the water heater breaks. I like that we're not on the very common treadmill of two full-time working parents who rush out the door with a cranky kid every morning, make sure she's got the lunch packed, the homework done, the permission slips signed. We don't come home exhausted at 6pm and worry about dinner, yell about homework, put the kid to bed and go to sleep to start all over again the next day. I'm very, very blessed to have a husband who stays home and makes our house run. I'm very, very blessed to have a job where I can support us working 3 days a week. 12 hour days to be sure, sometimes 36 hours in 3 days, which is its own, special kind of exhausting, as in, "please don't talk to me, I am done with human beings for at least the next 10 hours." We have a nice, working car, food in the fridge and the money to take a small trip every year, a bigger trip every 2 or 3. But once in a while I'd like to go out and spend $500 without thinking about it. I can't spend $50 without thinking long and hard about it.
And that's ok. I don't mind shopping at thrift stores and getting furniture off the curb. The thrill of finding some amazing treasure in my mother's attic or my grandpa's garage hasn't left me, it's just been transferred to the stuff from other people's attics and garages and basements and closets. This summer I found a Calvin Klein, beautiful off the shoulder, swingy brown dress for $17. Gary found a still in the box and wrapped in its plastic, signed, designer modern red lamp ON. THE. CURB. People didn't want to pack up after a garage sale. Quick Google search says it goes for about $160. I love that. It's like bagging a 4 point buck to some people, I guess. Maybe one day we'll find the Holy Grail of bargain shoppers and find some rare painting or piece of furniture that worth $100,000 for five bucks and we'll be the ones on Antiques Roadshow going, "Oh my Gosh! I had no idea! We'd been using to store paint!"
One of the things about my husband I cherish is that he doesn't have a lot of things and the things he has, he uses. It drives me crazy, sometimes, because he'll toss out or give away something and six months later we'll go, "Didn't we used to have a thingy-whatsis." But I used to find cool things and save them for "The right time, for when I had a house, for when I lost 10 pounds." And those things would sit in my closet, or on a shelf or in my basement until they were no longer anything I was interested in. Occasionally I'd unearth one of these things and and remember why I wanted it in the first place and start using it, but more often than not I'd wind up just re-gifting it, or donating it or throwing it away. "Don't store up your treasures here on earth."
Another blessing I've received is that really, the less things I have, the more I make do, the less I really want. My envy, my desire to always have more, to always think, like a 7 year old, that happiness awaits if only I had....this has definitely decreased. Not gone completely, for sure. But lessened. I've learned to make do and be satisfied with what I have. And this isn't just in regards to My Stuff. Right now, my job is enough. My marriage is enough More than enough, actually, but I know longer dwell on, "If only he'd...". How my kids are is enough-I'm not fretting over whether they're eating right, acting right, learning enough, whatever. And I'm trying, really trying to get over the house envy. God, if I'm supposed to buy a house, give me the ability and diligence to work for it, the knowledge to know what I'm doing. But if we stay where we are, that'd be ok too.