The Unbelievable Lightness of Not Having Stuff

There have been many difficult components to this cross-Pacific move: the separation, first from my husband when he came over here; now from my oldest daughter, who wanted to stay back with her g-parents and finish out her 5th grade promotion stuff and Girl Scout activities; the enormous expense; the selling of all the old things; the giving away of our two kitties; the giving up of our nearly 2000 square foot house for a 1100 square foot townhouse with two fewer showers and one fewer bedroom.

A job is a job. Having a job, in a single-income family, far outweighs not having a job, even if one has to move. If we had stayed, perhaps my husband would have gotten a job elsewhere (probably L.A.), or perhaps not, and then we would have to give up everything anyway because, hey, we would be BANKRUPT, just like our old state.  What up, California?

Yet, giving up everything and nearly starting from scratch is hard. For me, anyway. The kids have mostly adjusted. Sure, Kaiya’s still getting up too early and needs a nap and is cranky, all symptoms of the move, I think. And sure, all the area preschools are filled so I’m utterly panicked about what she’ll do this fall (which comes July 31 for school here– aack!)

But when you’re used to having a largish TV and you now have two small ones with buttons that you push, no remotes– and your kids are on mats on the floor, and you just gladly accepted a crappy wood-esque desk from a Craigslist stranger, and you’re using a spoon as a knife because you don’t have a knife, then you know things are different. You know you don’t want to get into debt buying silly things like furniture, when you just expended a large amount of money and are in debt from moving and all that time your husband was laid off. You know you are simply poor.

At low points,  I castigate myself for not doing more. For not settling on a career right of out college and working like hell at it until now, so at present  I would have a nice income. For not putting off marriage until we had both become secured in our careers. For not putting off children until at least my husband was secure.

When I married Cadillac, he was an Army specialist and I knew, of course, he was poor. What I didn’t know was how hard it would be to get out of the Army at age 29 and reboot yourself with a whole new career, started entry-level. It’s difficult to catch up.

Sometimes I think, Oh, if I had been working too this whole time, we wouldn’t have it so hard now. But Cadillac’s always told me that my writing’s my job. He thinks it’s a gamble that will pay off. He’s much more of a gambler than I am, though; that’s why he adores the stock market and Vegas. He’s usually pretty good at his bets. I hope he predicted well with me.

And if things had been different, if I had chosen differently, they wouldn’t have been better, necessarily.  I chose to have children young.  A couple of years ago, I began to have “lady problems” (for not wanting to put out TMI) and my doctor said, “It’s a good thing you already had children, because I don’t think you could get pregnant now.”

The bright side of the move  is that we don’t have a lot of stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever buy *stuff* again, not if I have to move it or sell it when we move. It’s surprising how little one can have, and not die like you would have thought when you were ensconced in middle class suburbia, way back when. We still have a computer and Internet access, after all. It’s not quite the dark ages.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

2 thoughts on “The Unbelievable Lightness of Not Having Stuff

  1. Thanks for the invite, I really do enjoy your blog, I wasn’t just saying it so you would be my friend.
    I wish I was half as creative and witty as you, can’t wait for your book:)

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