Everytime certain family members visit I feel vastly inadequate.
As she strolled into our rented duplex in her Ann Taylor power suit, her silk shirt, Brighton jewelery, sky high Circa David and Joan shoes, and Chloe bag, I could only blush embarrassingly at my Gap jeans, my New Balance outlet clearance sneakers, and my old navy puffer vest. I felt like a cheap excuse for a woman standing next to her. A little girl attempting to play dress up, and failing miserably. I didn't even offer her a glass of wine from the bottle of two buck chuck I had been saving.
I was embarrassed to show her our house. The tiny kitchen with the outdated cabinets and (GASP) formica countertops. The futon my boyfriend and I bought off his old roomate, and the saddest little TV stand you ever saw. Kmart faux wood, broken wheels, and a door that is taped shut to keep it from falling off. Disgusting. I apologized for everything. The tacky lighting, the cheap (mostly free) furniture, the borrowed air mattress, my jumpy puppies...it was all so embarrassing. So low rent. I'll never forget the look on her face when I told her the driveway was shared with the neighbors...pure pity.
So of course our first order of business was to head to Crate and Barrel. Everything was better there. The furniture, the dishes, even the tupperwear. I was better there. It was all so shiny and nice, stylish, the epitome of everything I wanted to be. How had I been living without this yellow citrus press? What was I thinking storing my food in dollar store tupperwear? Why were my dishcloths so old and out of style...so used? Did I have no shame???
Then I saw it. My big downfall for the weekend. The most beautiful TV stand I ever saw in my life. A feeling of intense desire surged over me. THIS is what I need to make my home happy. THIS will give me the stylish life I desire, hell, I DESERVE! And, BONUS, it's on SALE! Marked down to $350.00 (from $400.00). Turning my back on this meant turning my back on everything I could be, everything I should be, everything I was EXPECTED to be.
I immediately called my boyfriend. We had previously decided to split the cost of a crock-pot (on sale at Kmart now!) and auto bike rack (HOURS of cheap entertainment and travel) for Christmas gifts, but shouldn't we do this instead? Didn't we deserve this? Don't you love me enough to give me money for the life I deserve? Shouldn't you be providing more???
No. His solid answer. So I pulled out my old fallback, my plastic love....my HSBC credit card with an insanely high rate (and a 0 balance for the past six months!!). I work hard, I work damn hard. I deserve this. And just like that, I could expect the good life to be delivered directly to my house in 7-10 days!!!
Next stop, Ikea! Look at all of these beautiful things I can put INSIDE and ON TOP of my new tv stand! REALLY live it up! Then off to look at couches, and new Duvet covers (mine is just not the in color right now) and of course I'll need some new side tables. All said, temporary sanity took over and I emptied my cart to two vases for $14. Thank God.
After she left, the furniture argument continued. How could you do that to me? How could you embarrass me like that? How could you DENY me? We have enough money. I have $4000 saved, you have $25000. This is our LIFE we're talking about, our home, OUR STUFF. WE deserve it. WE are 28 year old grown ups and NEED these things.
Thankfully, the fight didn't last long, as his truthful angry words (and subsequent reason) slowly took hold. We have everything we NEED. What I should be doing with the $350 is sending it to my father to eliminate that personal loan ASAP. What I should be doing with the extra work hours I signed up for to pay for the furniture (designed to impress only OTHERS) is continue to save towards our goal of homeownership. What I should value is the HAPPINESS and LOVE in our home, not the things.
As we made up that night I realized that our love would be no less strong, our life no happier, and the sex no less fantastic were I bent over a Crate and Barrel TV stand instead of the free Kmart version.
I cancelled the furniture order today, and budgeted to have my dad completely paid off by Christmas ($1700 of extra work money in six weeks!).
And as for her:
I decided she can stay in a hotel from now on.