… or something.
When you’re in a rut, as I currently am, where every day is pretty much the same and the most exciting thing that happens is finding an extremely long white hair in your hairbrush, it’s pretty hard to be inspired to write. But write I must, as that’s how I will develop discipline and, perhaps one day, mastery.
I don’t want to be all woe is me and I’m working hard to make work connections and job opportunities so I can only trust that, as they always have, things will happen when they need to. In the meantime I thought I’d write about the affect being in LA has had on my materialistic being.
As someone who likes to be quite contrary, it may be no surprise to you that I come from a well-off background. There really isn’t anything stopping me from sitting back and living the rest of my life off hand-outs from my parents; except the fact that I have more respect for the hard work my parents have put in over their years in the medical professional and would (almost) never take advantage of them like that.
My parents balance each other out. My mum is a very soft, kind lady who lives off her emotions as much as her nerves. My dad is more intellectual and logical, particularly pragmatic in a way that I felt it was hard to relate to him when I was younger, but I much admire these days. It also means that he expresses his emotions differently to me and my mum, who will sob and hug and laugh and kiss as much as we feel necessary. Dad expresses his feelings for us through generous and giving spirit (not that there isn’t the occasional hug, of course). Many of the things I own that my dad got me, like my sat nav and my iPad, are things I would never have considered buying (generally due to cost) but I value being able to use. I would never have got an iPad had my dad not offered for Christmas and now I don’t think I could function without it.
(P.S I must also make note of the hours and days and months and years he gave to doing up our house; time is as precious as anything!)
This, in turn, has made me a giver, both emotionally and materialistically. I like to show the people that I care about that I’m thinking of them and will usually make cards, food or crochet items for friends and family. I remember a particularly disastrous relationship I had where this actually backfired. About 4 months after I met my husband Jon for the first time, we ended our long distance relationship (this was 10 years ago when he originally lived in LA and I was still in the UK studying my degree). Around Halloween that year I got together with a guy and laid it on far, far too heavy. I felt like I had something to prove, that I was worth being with, rather than just being me and taking each day as it came. I made him dinners, drove him around, even got him signed DVDs of his favourite show from a friend of mine in LA. After 6 weeks he dumped me saying that when he first met me he thought I was cool, but then as he got to know me I wasn’t (or something to that affect). I was just trying to fill a Jon shaped hole though, as I learned when we got back together to following April.
We all use material possessions as a sign of success or achievement though, don’t we? A way to show people who we are and what we are capable of, or to hide insecurities, or make up for something we lack. My favourite period of history is that of the Tudors and I’ll always remember reading about how Queen Elizabeth I, and others of standing, would wear so much jewelry as a means of expressing their wealth; if you’ve got it, flaunt in. When Jon and I moved into our first house (purchased by my parents, of course, but it’s not like we asked them to…) I went mad filling it with stuff…pottery, art, cushions…my god all the cushions! I don’t know what I was trying to show…how hip and arty I was I guess. Then we left and all I did was fill some suitcases with clothes, gathered all the lovely little trinkets that other people had given me and left it all behind.
Now we live in a tiny 12ft x 16ft studio with minimal room and minimal surfaces. I’m pretty proud that I’m feeling less inclined to fill the space with stuff. It’s not just because there isn’t the money to spare. Perhaps it’s because I’m being more true to myself and what I want to achieve, so I don’t feel like I have anything to show or prove. One thing I have noticed, though, is that the things I do buy are generally more cat shaped. Looks like I’m trying to fill a cat shaped hole.
(I do have to say though that I’m really proud of my ‘Craigslist’ buying skills; I got my great desk to $25, a microwave for $10, these red shelves for $20 #thriftyliving!)
I’m also finding I’m less likely to pursue Jon’s ‘need’ for things. Again, this is probably because in the UK I was trying to compensate for him being away from the US and to give and give and show him good things come in the UK (he was never happy there). He’d say he’d need something and I’d find a way to get it. That kinda damaged our relationship too because he became very reliant on me. Now things aren’t so comfortable and we can’t afford for me to just go off and fulfill these needs and I’m learning that I generally don’t need to. Most of the time that ‘need’ dissipates and I feel like he has less of an inclination to rely on me quite so much.
We all do cling, though, don’t we? When I returned home last month I had an air of ‘well, I’ve not missed these things so when I get back I’m going to have a good clear out’. That didn’t happen. I spent most of the time just shuffling stuff around and reminiscing. That’s the other thing I’ve got from my parents; they’re horders and I’m just too damn sentimental!