In the Beginning….We Had Everything

....and my parents paid the photographer.

….and my parents paid the photographer.

I don’t remember being all that worried when my car broke down for good along I-94 in the spring of 1996. We were coming back from our appointment with the wedding photographer. A nice couple had picked us up and took us to the Helmer Road exit in Battle Creek, where I called my dad for a ride.

It was a 1979 Plymouth Horizon, previously owned by my Great-Grandma Hill. From the time I was born I had gone to her house every Sunday, and sometime around the age of sixteen I had stayed with her while she recovered from surgery. During this week she must have decided I needed a vehicle, and so it was that the little red hatchback came into my possession.

We had our battles. That car taught me early on how to be nervous at every little engine sound, and how to stop at lights and stop signs without completely stopping (if I ever wanted her to go again); but that final year she gave me a lot of miles. I think it was the wedding we attended in Kansas the previous month that finally took her life.

One last road trip.

It was a half hour drive to my job as a Meijer’s shoe clerk, so the loss of my vehicle meant I would have to quit. I was a month away from my 20th birthday, and two months away from my own wedding day. I should have been panicked, but my young mind thought the time off would be convenient. Who needs money? Obviously we had no money for a car. I was engaged to a man with epilepsy who didn’t even know how to drive. This, combined with the fact that my car had broken down so much I was used to being without a vehicle made us believe we didn’t need to have transportation, either. Continue reading

A Life Beneath Our Means

I’ve been thinking of completely changing my life. My career path went off course in the evil pursuit of money, and I find myself surrounded by people who are on course- and I hate them. Not because they are reaching all their career goals. Let’s face it. It’s hard to envy people whose goals are found in the same place where dreams go to die, right? No, I hate them because they are not my kind of people. I just don’t quite belong, and I feel offended every time I get their approval.

I don’t mean to sound like I am better, because that isn’t (always) it. Just different- and people like to be around other people who share their passions and ideas. I don’t even hate them. I am just not as passionate about middle management sales goals. Other people, turns out, take it quite serious. So then I have to fake enthusiasm. It’s really a never-ending cycle of self-loathing, with moments of clarity scattered in.

So now what? I am the bread winner in this family, and all of my great experience lies in the financial sector. I can make money there, so I keep doing it. How do you start over and still pay the bills? It’s been more than a decade since I have been labeled a creative type by the general public. I used to write songs and sing in a band. I knew what I wanted every day and how I would get it. Then I found this great day job…. and the rest is just part of my painful history.

I have been thinking about minimalism. Actually, I have been thinking about everything from volunteering overseas to joining a cult. So far I have brainstormed up to moving into a two bedroom apartment that includes more utilities. Rent and heat in this large, old house really do add up. Could I get away with not having a car? Seems unlikely. We have already let go of cable, but I don’t see any chance of us giving up our iPhones.

If it were just me and Dave it would be simpler. I’d make that a studio apartment- maybe in a whole other town. We could travel around working for lodging or something. I could homeschool Teghan- but who are we kidding? Teghan is like a safety net. She’s an obstacle in this situation, and my laziness is the only thing that keeps me from making impulsive decisions. Dave and I are easily convinced to go on an adventure, and without obstacles we would likely do something stupid like hit the road with no plan, or actually join a cult (which is sort of how we met- but that’s another story).

The goal is to live well under our meager means, and to spend more time and money doing the things we want to. And to really do it, there will be some sacrifice. Sounds romantic at first, but I have been tricked before. So for now I am just planning, and cleaning out the attic. But something bigger will happen- soon.