I promise soon to post something about how shitty it is to go from having two incomes to one, and how I'm freaked out and want to punch someone in the throat. Perhaps, someone I'm married to. But that is not this post. This post is about gratitude, instead.
One of the interesting byproducts of E. losing his job has been that it has heightened my noticing of everything we have that is free. Everything that is a gift. Everything, every experience, every feeling that we just get by virtue of where we have been and where we are now and just dumb luck.
Let me be clear: we are nowhere near poverty. I have amazing benefits at work, and a decent salary and savings that will see us through for a good while before things get really sad (like, losing our house sad). But all of the frills have been cut, or will have to be cut--eating out, shopping, all of those little monthly expenses that were just "in the noise" before. Pretty much all mindless spending of any sort, from Starbucks to the grocery store, is going to have to be eliminated or pretty seriously curtailed if we're going to buy E. enough time to explore and figure out what's next for him.
But I feel like it's important to acknowledge the extraordinary safety net we have in place, since so many people don't have a net like ours, and so I'm really just talking about how we're still going to be middle class, just maybe more on the lower end of the middle class spectrum. I say this not to gloat, but to acknowledge how many would truly struggle with basics like food and shelter were they to lose one income. That is not us, but I feel solidarity with those folks just the same, despite our crazy amounts of privilege.
Anyway, all the FREE and amazing joyful things! Sure, I am still overcome occasionally with wee bouts of sadness and panic when I realize how conscious I have to be now about money. It can be a pain. But mostly, I'm like Maria twirling in the Alps, hands outstretched in amazement at the surrounding beauty. Like walking the dogs off leash at the junior high nearby: Milo's big, dopey, loping gait and Peanut's low quick pounces. Sometimes he gets going so fast his hind legs can't slow down and he does an endo! I mean, how amazing is that? You can't see it and feel sad, I guarantee it. The grass is so green from all the rain, it's starting to feel cool out, and I'm pretty sure there is nothing more beautiful than sunsets in the Rocky Mountains. The girls chatter and do cartwheels in the grass, and I have such a feeling of well-being. It helps to knock the fear on its ass.
There is the feeling of overwhelming gratitude when we leave the local library with a huge canvas bag stuffed positively full of books. We get home and I brew a coffee and we snuggle up on the couches or in our rooms and we just read for hours. It's got to be one of the best things in the world.
There's the top deck. Granted, the kids and dogs can't really be out there because there is no railing. I probably shouldn't be out there with my extreme klutziness. But we have a little table and umbrella, and a burbling fountain, and the huge branches of the cherry tree form a canopy over the rest. It's extraordinary out there, really.
And then, jeez, there's just the spillover goods. All the books we own but haven't read, all the tv shows we can stream for free, all the crafts we have supplies for, all the athletic equipment we own and could use more of. We're good cooks and can make delicious food for pretty cheap. I'm cleaning my own house again for the first time in over a year, and I'm even enjoying that, seeing my "objects" again, and rearranging them, and seeing what we really want to keep and what we don't.
Above all: each other, and you. Potlucks at each others' houses, phone calls, hugs, laughs, bottles of cheap wine. You help me to overcome my sadness and fear and longing. You're supporting E. with ideas and love, too. We're so grateful.