Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Beginnings

This is our new house. We haven't closed on it yet but I think it's safe to say that we will be living here shortly. In the meantime, I have a pretty generous mother-in-law who has let us crash at her place. Someone suggested that I write more about our economic situation; but to do it anonymously so that I can say whatever I want without being embarrassed. Since very few, to no people read my blog I don't think I have to be anonymous. Plus, I'm used to embarrassing myself, so whatever. This will just be a time capsule of journaling for later.

I haven't posted in a year because frankly, the last year has been hell. No deaths, no ill children, no major tragedy--so I try not to dwell or be overly dramatic. But things have been bad, then worse, then better, then worse, then mostly just maintaining. So this post is to new beginnings.

In early 2009, Josh was laid off in a huge wave of layoffs hitting Kansas City in the architecture/engineering/anything-related-to-construction industry. What followed was sporadic work, an attempt to be self-employed and drum up our own business, and a dry well followed by explosive panic and self-deprecation. We lost everything. Our savings, retirement accounts, our sanity, and very nearly our relationship. We lost our home--though it was an awesome, quick sale rather than the foreclosure we were dreading. But for the grace of our parents and families we would have been in someone's basement long ago. If we had no family at all, we would have been in a shelter. We've lost lots and lots of pride.

We really, really tried to make things work financially. But there just aren't quick answers now. Believe me, begging for work is painful, humiliating, and really, super, super humiliating. Rejection is worse. I was lucky to transfer to a new, pretty solid, full time job back in January while Josh, god bless him, spent hours contemplating why he wasn't a good enough husband/father in between those aforementioned rejections. Ugh. So not pretty.

There are probably 100 new and surprising things I learned though:

I will work 3 jobs to pay our bills

I could survive in very questionable housing as long as I have my husband and daughter

When people say that money isn’t what’s important; they’re usually the ones that have a lot

I will sacrifice anything for my daughter so that none of this last year comes close to touching her

Though it’s the toughest economy we’ve experienced, people are still pretty scary mean towards folks on welfare and people out of work

There’s a lot I can do with a dollar

I’m just generally a badass

So that’s 7 things. I’m not actually going to list 100. I think that last one encapsulates pretty much everything you need to know. But back to that house—we looked everywhere for somewhere to live. There were many, many grueling days of wondering if we could afford anything—even a cheap, cheap rental. This house was the last thing we looked at. It was cheaper per month than any rental; it was in fairly good shape; it was owned by someone who ironically, couldn’t afford to keep it and needed to unload it quickly.

Getting into the house has taken every last dime. Luckily, Josh got a very part-time job with a pretty cool non-profit a few months ago. That has helped. We aren’t out of the hole but we’re nearing the top. Our year coming up looks treacherous but manageable. We’re selling a car to save money and familiarizing ourselves with a very crappy public transportation system. We’re still able to send Harper to school, thank god, but that’s pretty much the only major “purchase” each month. I no longer dread getting out of bed every morning.

It’s still hard to be around people who have a lot. It’s so hard to admit that because it’s ugly. It’s one of the things I should have added to that list up there—I’m full of envy—like, a lot of envy. I envy people who take vacations. I envy people who can afford “extras”—like cable and fancy shampoo. I envy people who don’t have to take a calculator to the grocery store. I know one of the hardest things for Josh has been seeing our friends and acquaintances have their second or even third child--knowing we've not been able to afford having more.

But I'm looking at that house as a form of redemption. I don't know what parts of life we got wrong and what parts were out of our hands from the beginning. It really doesn't make any difference to worry about that now. That house will be a safe, comforting place. AND that house has walls and a roof--which is a plus. It even has a basement and a yard--double plus! Harper's best friends live around the corner, we are within walking distance of a park, and WALLS! and a ROOF! And they are ours--we own them...all on our own! When I look at it, I feel like things might actually be okay--even good!  

So here's to new beginnings. May the next 12 months not be a repeat of the last 12. May I remember that Dollar Tree has the best deals when what I really want is to go to Target. May we never forget the lessons that being flat broke has taught us. And when I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, might I remember that the floor I step onto, and the walls, oh those walls, and that roof over my head are mine! My family is there--and my new life is there!

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