Saturday, June 6, 2009

Deciding To Be Poor In Order To Be Rich

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I told the story about how my partner, Rich, and I met. It's the silliest story in the world, one that involves "just knowing" that we'd be together before we had even met, keeping a box of "Rich" trinkets - name tags he had worn, a sticker he had given me, and a napkin that represented the first time I touched his arm - hidden in my sock drawer, and then the first time we danced, or really danced around a conversation. What sicky-sweet, wholly endearing lunacy!

That story led to the one about living in a migrant worker shack, and selling blood to eat, and picking wildflowers for presents because we couldn't afford much more.. etc.

In my mind, these stories are highly romanticised. I see them as a time when I was happy and carefree despite having nothing or maybe because we had nothing. And yes, I do remember having to decide which bills to pay. I remember the sting of embarrassment when my credit card(s) were rejected when I tried to buy books for school, or when I had to count pennies at the gas station to see exactly where I had to stop the pump. If my car died or got towed, I wouldn't be able to drive for a month, or until I could save enough to get it fixed or un-impounded. The idea of actually going out to dinner was hilarious - as in Taco Bell was a date.

The great thing about this time in my life was I didn't consider myself poor. I knew I always had a place to stay (even if that meant going back home). I knew I wouldn't starve. AND I had so many friends in similar circumstances that we were creative in how we shared. We lent (read "gave" because there was no expectation of paying anything back, unless it was rent) each other cash - shared bank loans, crashed at each other's places, fed each other, and spent a lot of time simply hanging out because that was the entertainment we could afford.

Was this community?

Without going into too much detail, I had (I suppose) the opportunity to revisit my life pre-SUV, pre-responsibility, and pre-suburbia. I could imagine what living in community really could be, though I would have had to do it carefully with a one year old Baby Jack. I could almost concretely see my life in a community where I left all of my "comfortable" security (and the lonely solitude that comes with it) to be in a place where I had the time to "hang out" with people again. I would be vulnerable, exposed - two qualities that fly in the face of my culture's defining value of 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps."

In short, I would have to sell back my version of The American Dream.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not talking about patriotism here. I do love my country. It is made up of good, hardworking people. Somehow, though, I think we got a little bit distracted by what we could own, rather than seeing the value in what we have or can be. I absolutely am the poster child for the typical independent, self-reliant, white picket fence American. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but for me it isn't THE dream.

___________________________________________________
I applied to be an international teacher and was accepted into a program that will match me to schools in Europe and/or Latin America. Rich has proudly applied to be a stay at home dad - his dream. Though I'm eager to go RIGHT NOW (so much so that I am literally grinding my teeth together in anticipation and have sent cover letters and resumes and applications to at least 15 schools), I will probably have to wait another year. One year. Next year.

I'm not sure where we'll go. I don't know how we'll live without two incomes. I don't know what will happen to our 403B's or how fast we can sell everything we own, save our pots and pans and shoes. But we've made the decision. We're going. And I am so happy about the prospect of it all that I can hardly breathe.

15 comments:

Pete the Brit said...

Thatis absolutely awesome and depressing for you...I am so excited for you and Rich as I know it's something you've wanted to do for a long time, and it sucks for me as I won't be able to just drive up and see you whenever I want a stupid weekend involving silly games, fun movies, laughter and alcohol (not neccissarily in that order!)

Amy said...

What a wonderful post. I think we all go through this in our lives. I can remeber trying to get my bills together and wondering what to do. How hard I had to work to get things. But in the end I think it makes us much stronger people. Right?

annie said...

Yeah! Wonderful news! Every now and then I see an add come up in Craigslist to come buy everything this person owns because they're ditching it all to move abroad and I feel a little happier and lighter knowing that another person just gave in to their dreams. You all are brave pioneers in the newest American frontier: authentic living.

On another note, I'm reading a book for a course that would be really great for you, especially considering the previous change post. It's called Motivational Interviewing. Some of it is viewable for free on Google Books. Otherwise, here:

Amazon.com: Motivational Interviewing

Also, you need a Kindle so you don't have to travel with all your books!

Jen said...

WOW!! This is something that totally fits YOU!! I hope all works out the way you want it to! Change is scary but I know you'll look back on this opportunity as the great time in your lives!! I'll be wishing you good thoughts and praying for you too! How exciting!! Keep us updated!!

Love you!

Pam said...

Wow! Way to live the dream! It takes a lot of guts to do that. I commend you. Next year will be here before you know it.

maria said...

I hope hope hope you get a school in the UK, or at least somewhere that has convenient flights from London!

Bonnie said...

That is so great! I hope you get everything you dream of and more. Good luck!

Deidra said...

You guys are super stars. That is amazing way to step out of your comfort zone. You guys will do will do great. I am excited to take this journey with you, via the blog. Although our moves have only been across the United States twice now it is totally worth the adventure to pick up and move to a different place. Good luck. Love You guys.

happyfunpants said...

I'm so proud of you - not for dreaming your dream and not even for recognizing it - but for taking action to get there.

Way to go - to both of you. I am so lucky to have spent that weekend a couple of months ago with you so I could get to know you better and meet baby Jack and Rich while I had the chance.

Yay you!

the girls' moma said...

Ginger, I am nearly in tears now after reading this post. I know how dear this is to your heart, how badly you want to go, how scary it is, how brave you're going to be, and how long the next year is seeming right now. But it will give you time to plan and save, and time to allow me to visit you a few more times before you go. ;)

I love you -- all three of you.

Chelle said...

THAT'S AWESOME!!!! So excited for you all. Live the life YOU ALL want, not the one plastered on magazines. It will be the time of your lives. can't wait to hear how the story unfolds.

Kathryn said...

I really respect and love this post, particularly the title. I've been thinking a lot about "deciding to be poor in order to be rich" lately.

I'm all in favor of jumping when you think it's right. Do it, there's only so much time and we, as humans, should be using it well.

After all, if you're emotionally, intellectually, and soulfully rich, I've been finding you don't actually miss the money too much.

So in a year maybe you'll be saying goodbye to the US, and I'll be riding a bike to Alaska. Grand adventures...

Ala said...

YAY! I am so happy for your Ms. Haag. Any country and any kid would be so lucky to have you as a teacher. I can never take another English class because nothing could match you and Fougs.

nouwasa said...

Dude! :) DUDE! :D I am soooooo happy for you! That is soooo awesome!! Lol, I was wondering when this day would finally come. I don't think you were cut out for the "regular" classroom. Hehe, so you are going to be the ultimate "floating" teacher! You rock! Let us know how it goes. :)

Yeah, it's been 3 years (toooo longgg) since I've been out of the country and I am getting really fidgety. But I am happy to say that my brother-in-law in Dubai is getting married to a really cool woman from Thailand...so, yay, hope to travel there soon!

Sandy said...

Very cool, I envy you your ambition and adventurous spirit. I was also afraid to do something like that. Such a cool thing to look back on one day. Can't wait to hear more.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Deciding To Be Poor In Order To Be Rich

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I told the story about how my partner, Rich, and I met. It's the silliest story in the world, one that involves "just knowing" that we'd be together before we had even met, keeping a box of "Rich" trinkets - name tags he had worn, a sticker he had given me, and a napkin that represented the first time I touched his arm - hidden in my sock drawer, and then the first time we danced, or really danced around a conversation. What sicky-sweet, wholly endearing lunacy!

That story led to the one about living in a migrant worker shack, and selling blood to eat, and picking wildflowers for presents because we couldn't afford much more.. etc.

In my mind, these stories are highly romanticised. I see them as a time when I was happy and carefree despite having nothing or maybe because we had nothing. And yes, I do remember having to decide which bills to pay. I remember the sting of embarrassment when my credit card(s) were rejected when I tried to buy books for school, or when I had to count pennies at the gas station to see exactly where I had to stop the pump. If my car died or got towed, I wouldn't be able to drive for a month, or until I could save enough to get it fixed or un-impounded. The idea of actually going out to dinner was hilarious - as in Taco Bell was a date.

The great thing about this time in my life was I didn't consider myself poor. I knew I always had a place to stay (even if that meant going back home). I knew I wouldn't starve. AND I had so many friends in similar circumstances that we were creative in how we shared. We lent (read "gave" because there was no expectation of paying anything back, unless it was rent) each other cash - shared bank loans, crashed at each other's places, fed each other, and spent a lot of time simply hanging out because that was the entertainment we could afford.

Was this community?

Without going into too much detail, I had (I suppose) the opportunity to revisit my life pre-SUV, pre-responsibility, and pre-suburbia. I could imagine what living in community really could be, though I would have had to do it carefully with a one year old Baby Jack. I could almost concretely see my life in a community where I left all of my "comfortable" security (and the lonely solitude that comes with it) to be in a place where I had the time to "hang out" with people again. I would be vulnerable, exposed - two qualities that fly in the face of my culture's defining value of 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps."

In short, I would have to sell back my version of The American Dream.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not talking about patriotism here. I do love my country. It is made up of good, hardworking people. Somehow, though, I think we got a little bit distracted by what we could own, rather than seeing the value in what we have or can be. I absolutely am the poster child for the typical independent, self-reliant, white picket fence American. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but for me it isn't THE dream.

___________________________________________________
I applied to be an international teacher and was accepted into a program that will match me to schools in Europe and/or Latin America. Rich has proudly applied to be a stay at home dad - his dream. Though I'm eager to go RIGHT NOW (so much so that I am literally grinding my teeth together in anticipation and have sent cover letters and resumes and applications to at least 15 schools), I will probably have to wait another year. One year. Next year.

I'm not sure where we'll go. I don't know how we'll live without two incomes. I don't know what will happen to our 403B's or how fast we can sell everything we own, save our pots and pans and shoes. But we've made the decision. We're going. And I am so happy about the prospect of it all that I can hardly breathe.

15 comments:

Pete the Brit said...

Thatis absolutely awesome and depressing for you...I am so excited for you and Rich as I know it's something you've wanted to do for a long time, and it sucks for me as I won't be able to just drive up and see you whenever I want a stupid weekend involving silly games, fun movies, laughter and alcohol (not neccissarily in that order!)

Amy said...

What a wonderful post. I think we all go through this in our lives. I can remeber trying to get my bills together and wondering what to do. How hard I had to work to get things. But in the end I think it makes us much stronger people. Right?

annie said...

Yeah! Wonderful news! Every now and then I see an add come up in Craigslist to come buy everything this person owns because they're ditching it all to move abroad and I feel a little happier and lighter knowing that another person just gave in to their dreams. You all are brave pioneers in the newest American frontier: authentic living.

On another note, I'm reading a book for a course that would be really great for you, especially considering the previous change post. It's called Motivational Interviewing. Some of it is viewable for free on Google Books. Otherwise, here:

Amazon.com: Motivational Interviewing

Also, you need a Kindle so you don't have to travel with all your books!

Jen said...

WOW!! This is something that totally fits YOU!! I hope all works out the way you want it to! Change is scary but I know you'll look back on this opportunity as the great time in your lives!! I'll be wishing you good thoughts and praying for you too! How exciting!! Keep us updated!!

Love you!

Pam said...

Wow! Way to live the dream! It takes a lot of guts to do that. I commend you. Next year will be here before you know it.

maria said...

I hope hope hope you get a school in the UK, or at least somewhere that has convenient flights from London!

Bonnie said...

That is so great! I hope you get everything you dream of and more. Good luck!

Deidra said...

You guys are super stars. That is amazing way to step out of your comfort zone. You guys will do will do great. I am excited to take this journey with you, via the blog. Although our moves have only been across the United States twice now it is totally worth the adventure to pick up and move to a different place. Good luck. Love You guys.

happyfunpants said...

I'm so proud of you - not for dreaming your dream and not even for recognizing it - but for taking action to get there.

Way to go - to both of you. I am so lucky to have spent that weekend a couple of months ago with you so I could get to know you better and meet baby Jack and Rich while I had the chance.

Yay you!

the girls' moma said...

Ginger, I am nearly in tears now after reading this post. I know how dear this is to your heart, how badly you want to go, how scary it is, how brave you're going to be, and how long the next year is seeming right now. But it will give you time to plan and save, and time to allow me to visit you a few more times before you go. ;)

I love you -- all three of you.

Chelle said...

THAT'S AWESOME!!!! So excited for you all. Live the life YOU ALL want, not the one plastered on magazines. It will be the time of your lives. can't wait to hear how the story unfolds.

Kathryn said...

I really respect and love this post, particularly the title. I've been thinking a lot about "deciding to be poor in order to be rich" lately.

I'm all in favor of jumping when you think it's right. Do it, there's only so much time and we, as humans, should be using it well.

After all, if you're emotionally, intellectually, and soulfully rich, I've been finding you don't actually miss the money too much.

So in a year maybe you'll be saying goodbye to the US, and I'll be riding a bike to Alaska. Grand adventures...

Ala said...

YAY! I am so happy for your Ms. Haag. Any country and any kid would be so lucky to have you as a teacher. I can never take another English class because nothing could match you and Fougs.

nouwasa said...

Dude! :) DUDE! :D I am soooooo happy for you! That is soooo awesome!! Lol, I was wondering when this day would finally come. I don't think you were cut out for the "regular" classroom. Hehe, so you are going to be the ultimate "floating" teacher! You rock! Let us know how it goes. :)

Yeah, it's been 3 years (toooo longgg) since I've been out of the country and I am getting really fidgety. But I am happy to say that my brother-in-law in Dubai is getting married to a really cool woman from Thailand...so, yay, hope to travel there soon!

Sandy said...

Very cool, I envy you your ambition and adventurous spirit. I was also afraid to do something like that. Such a cool thing to look back on one day. Can't wait to hear more.