02 September 2009

How Much Is Enough?

I have enough. Not too much, but enough.
I know some of you will find this surprising, having watched me spend my way through 1990's and perhaps earlier. But I have enough.
Most of you know that I moved back to the East Coast after seven years in Los Angeles. Happy years, some of them. Not wildly lucrative years, but they were good years. I love sunshine and palm trees.
I left most of my household belongings in a storage bin in Los Angeles until I can gather the courage needed to load it all up and move lock, stock, and barrel to my new locale. I drove east with my small economy car loaded down, but still offering a fine view of the road behind me. And I rarely turned back to check it.
That's how I am at this point in my life, footloose and fancy-free. More so than most 20 year olds you know because the one thing I've never cut loose under any circumstances is my ration of steely nerve. I love a good adventure and starting a fresh life seems the way to gain one.
So I arrived here and set about jump-starting a life with a carload full of clothes, two computers, and five different types of dental floss in varying amounts.
I needed some plates. I bought them at Goodwill. I needed some sheets. I bought them at a discount store. The plates were a hit; the sheets were a miss. Ugly, black, shiny and completely unappealing. I didn't think I'd ever find restful nirvana in them, so I repacked them and took them back to the store.
On the advice of a friend, I went back to Goodwill, this time looking for sheets. And I found them: beautiful, pre-washed (but ahhh, yes, I washed them again...just in case!) quality sheets. They were all top-sheets, because apparently Americans wear out their fitted sheets long before the flat sheets show wear.

This is Rahman. I met Rahman at Goodwill. No, not Rahman, like the noodles. "Rahhh-mahn." He's smiled while taking my money through several transactions now. Heck, he's smiled through transactions with grumpy overweight grannies dragging grandchildren in tow while they buy badly repainted bookcases that have to be loaded on the back dock. Rahman is from Bangladesh and he's very happy to be in the United States. He's profoundly grateful for the kindness of a customer's smile. He's a bonus, that's for sure, but that type of thinking makes you very aware of what other customers are inflicting on him. He's one of my little bits of "people candy" in this experience.
Anyway, I spent the first six weeks trotting back and forth between two Goodwill stores in Virginia, stopping in almost every time I drove over to workout at a friend's fitness center.
I bought antique silverware that is all mismatched. I bought a few pictures in frames that I hung around the tiny little place I rented. I picked up some Christmas-y decorated bowls, but put them back again. I already had bowls: one red, one green. Isn't that Christmas-y enough?
I also carefully considered which used Crockpot to take home. I tested a couple of small fans and lamps and... then I stopped.
It came to me one day after the workout that I have enough.
To keep going back to Goodwill when I don't need anything more would mean I haven't learned anything in this recession. It would mean all the good lessons of life's downturns were wasted on me. It would also mean I was a little ungrateful at what God had given me.
I mean, I have three forks (every one of them is a different length), four spoons, and six table knives (what was I thinking?) so really, I have enough, right?
I think it may just make me smile all the way through whatever winter brings this year.
So thank you, but I have enough. However, if you're invited for dinner, be a dear bring your own silverware. I might not have enough.


the Provident Woman said...

Wow! Way to start over. That's awesome. I feel I DON'T have enough have a 12 place setting of silverware. My kids take them out of the drawer and play with them. Why you ask? I have no idea. They're weird.


Marti said...

It's been eye-opening, that's for sure.

I also write (professionally) a green business blog for a website. I think it's opened my eyes to exactly how wasteful I've always been.

I'm sort of amused with what I'm doing right now. It's like my own personal social experiment.

And when I am done experimenting... there's always that storage locker in Los Angeles!!

Jen said...

You can use our silverware if you come visit us. (If the children haven't buried too many pieces outside by then.)

Marti said...

Or... we can get extra plastic silverware from that charming little Mexican restaurant that I'm so fond of.

Kimm said...

This notion of 'enough' really is a tough one for most of us. It's helpful to see you experiment with it 'out loud'.