So, when my ex and I eventually had the “what do you want to take” conversation in early January (I think? November to May are a bit of a blur), there were very few things I called dibs on. Totally by choice, mind you. I took the car (which, given it won’t be paid for until 2013, is technically a debt, but since I’m pretty attached to Lexi — major hint being that I named her — this was important to me) and some furniture I’d had pre-moving in together (i.e. pre-having a full-time job and enough money to buy nice stuff).
Once the house was actually sold and the offer on my new place had been accepted, I then proceeded to give up even more. The dining room set I’d thought I’d wanted became one more thing to pass on. Worked great in a four bedroom house. Not so much a one bedroom condo.
Suffice it to say, my new place is pretty sparse right now. I am sleeping in the bed I bought with a j-skool (journalism school) scholarship I was thrilled to receive in 2002. I can watch movies on my laptop, but am TV-less due to a decision to donate the bulky tube TV I bought used last winter to the Salvation Army in May (logic being that nothing much but a flat screen is gonna work in a living room that would fit into my old rec room three times over . . . maybe even four). I am using my camping cutlery. They are perfectly decent, mind you, but I can’t help but wish I had more than four of each utensil so I could in fact enjoy the use of the dishwasher in my beautiful new kitchen ; )
Over the past almost year of going through a divorce, various people have asked me for my insight on the splitting up process. How it works, do you really fight over who gets the coffee table, and other similar questions. I’ve started to joke that I’ve become the “ending a long-term relationship” expert to certain friends. Can’t say I’m quite in a place where I see this as a good thing. I mean, my general approach to life is to try never to have regrets, and I have grown a ton from this experience. I’m even in a happy enough place right now that I was able to laugh when my friend A turned to me a few weeks ago and said something along the lines of: “You know what’s kinda cool? You’re gonna be a divorcée. It sounds so grown up and mysterious.” Yeh, I chuckled at that. But, I still can’t help but wish there’d been some other path to getting to where I am now.
Anyway, I may not love it, but if others can learn from my experience, why not embrace that silver lining a bit? So, in answer to some of these questions, I’ve adopted the following genuine and heart felt line: “stuff is just stuff.” When you’re messed up over a serious thing like walking away from a person you’ve been with for eight and half years, you kinda don’t care about who gets the stereo (I did) or the couch (him).
But (yeah, there’s a but . . . apologies to those of you thinking I was really that above caring about possessions) then one day you have to face the reality of needing a ton of sh*t all at once and not having near enough money to buy it. This is where I am now. And it SUCKS!
Not cause of the stereotypical, “I used to have this stuff but now I have to buy it a second time because my relationship failed and this makes me feel sorry for myself” rant you hear all the time in pop culture. Oh no, that’s not what’s got me down.
It’s the choosing!
What do I get first? I can’t follow the same pattern I did the first time I went through this acquiring phase (when I had someone else’s opinion to account for). Nor, to be frank, do I really want to. I’m not the same person I was then. So, instead I am faced with the following questions: What is most important to me right now? What is a nice to have versus a need to have?
For your edification (and in case any of my readers living nearby have suggestions on where to get these items cheap, or on a buy now pay later basis that I would have scorned the last time I did this, but now think is a GREAT idea) here’s the list so far:
– Dishes (currently using my Grandmother’s china, which is lovely but can’t go in the microwave)
– Flat screen TV
– Couch (have a futon but it’s really too big for the space and at nine years old, has reached an uncomfortable level of lumpiness)
– Laptop (about to die, great timing)
– Corkscrew (took me just one bottle of wine to break the one on my Swiss Army knife)
– Full length mirror
– Ironing board (along with the mirror, am sure my colleagues will appreciate the positive impact this might have on my appearance at work . . . )
– Apartment appropriate storage (Ikea, here I come).
So far, am leaning towards a new bed as the first major purchase. My achy neck and shoulder are in fact screaming for one. But, beyond this, at this stage all I can do is keep adding things to the list as they occur to me and hope clarity will come in the guise of necessity (i.e. when the need for something becomes urgent, that’s what I’ll buy next).
On that note, I ask you all to join me in a rain dance to the goddess of technology seeking protection for my laptop when next the grim reaper comes round. ‘Cus the thing is, stuff is just stuff, but I really want a new couch that’s hip new Westboro digs appropriate : )
Had a few more thoughts to add after sleeping on this post.
(a) It’s official. I will be getting a new bed this weekend. Hear that achy shoulder and neck? You win.
(2) Add new dining room set to the list. Totally forgot about that one.
(c) Cause I’m not sure if it’s clear, do want to note that I totally realize that part of the reason I can’t afford all this stuff at once is cause I chose to take three months of unpaid leave and spend more than a few bills on traveling the world, buying my new road bike Suzie Blue, etc. I realize I am incredibly lucky to have been financially stable enough to do this and still be able to buy my condo all within a year of my break up. This post is not at all meant as a cry for people to feel sorry for me.
(iv) I know that practically none of the above things are actually need to haves. No one needs a flat screen TV. Again, just working through a “problem” that I (a well paid, childless, first world divorcée who has not stopped my charitable contributions or anything stoopid like that, I swear!) am facing.