We are an acquisitive culture. The American Dream is all about what you can get and that’s certainly been obvious in the past few decades with the McMansion neighborhoods that have sprouted throughout the suburbs and all the Hummers and other ostentatious vehicles on the streets. I’ll admit to buying into it somewhat myself- when we made our move to the Best Place to Live we went from a 3-bedroom/2-bath condo to a 5-bedroom/3.5 bath house. Of course there are 5 of us so it seemed less an extravagance than just moving up to something comfortable. But then there were so many more rooms to furnish and a patio and yard that cried out for all those outdoor living sets and yard tools! Hey- the more space you have, the more things you need!
That’s all in the past now. Over the last 7 months – since March when the house was repossessed- we have been shedding possessions, simplifying our lives and lessening the burden. Or so I tell myself. What have we lost?
Well, the house obviously. And my life’s savings including retirement plans that were cashed out at the height of the crisis. Our credit rating. All of our furniture except for the 2 Tibetan chests that I brought back from China and the dresser that my sister painted for my first daughter. Most of our library of over 1,000 books. All large toys and anything relating to yard work or ‘outdoor living ‘(except the camping gear, naturally). Lots of other household goods (what’s left is in a storage compartment). Two of our toy rat terriers. I knew we would have a hard time living on the streets with 4 dogs so we found good homes for 2 of them. Health insurance. Our sense of security and a good deal of our self-confidence and self-esteem. Privacy- impossible when living in a 26-foot trailer with 4 other people. Friends. Our church- this was more of a coincidence as there just happened to be a bit of a shake up in leadership with which I strongly disagreed at the same time we moved onto the street. We no longer feel welcome at that church and sadly still remain unchurched. So it was a loss of my spiritual mentor and friendships. Income. Space. Patience and my sense of humor. Faith.
What have we kept? Two of our dogs. Some special friends. Our mini-van (paid off, insured, registered, and thanks to a friend has had a recent oil change). The most important possessions- letters my mom wrote me over the course of my life, photographs, many of our books, things that relate to the children’s heritage, the family bible, camping supplies, a few household/kitchen implements that are stored in the event we ever have a real kitchen with counterspace, some clothing, a portable dvd player, my laptop computer and cell phone (our lifelines) and an hp all in one printer. Our YMCA membership (now discounted). A sense of determination. My sanity. Our dignity.
What have we gained? Our trailer- a snug secure roof over our head (the floor is a little less reliable we’re finding), complete with AC, a fridge, cooking facilities and a private bathroom. Our little cat. Cynicism. Anger. Frustration. Sleepless nights. Anxiety. High blood pressure. Support- both emotional and practical- from people we have never met in person. That’s the best thing.