Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of a Decade: Part I

I was inspired by Jasie, over at by the seat of our pants, and her retrospective look at the last decade, and decided to do the same over here.  Here goes:

2000:  Moved from Arizona to my parent's house in Western New York to get married.  Ran out of money after the wedding and remained in WNY (not our original plan!).  I taught preschool for $7 an hour and SuperSpouse was unemployed and did the day-job gig at Labor Ready.  We ate a lot of Ramen.  In fact, I had to quit Ramen that year because I ate so much of it.  I've only recently started eating it again, so--hey!--I guess Ramen noodle soup has bookended this decade for me.  Our lifestyle was perhaps a bit humbling for college grads in a decent economy, but when Jurassic 5 released "What's Golden?" a few years later with the lyrics:  I'm labor ready, Rhode Scholar for the dollar/ Work for mines, pay me by the hour, we felt like we could authentically rock that song because of the experience.  And that has made it all worthwhile.

2001:  Plugged along in my hometown.  Our apartment was gorgeous.  The city we lived in was decidedly not.  Although I will always love my hometown like a little lost child you just can't save, it is depressing as hell to live there.  We applied to grad school, got accepted, and took off in December to spend a month visiting the in-laws in the ever-sunny Deep South before moving to the cold, snowy shores of Lake Ontario.

2002:  Rented our first ever house together with just the two of us (we had lived in houses before, but always with groups of students).  It was small, crooked, and up on top of a very steep hill.  We could hear the wind coming across the lake and then feel it shake our house as we lay in bed at night in multiple layers of clothing, using an illegal-according-to-our-lease space heater to keep warm because the upstairs of the house wasn't heated.  That winter brought us 13 feet of snow.  Why the @#$% wasn't the upstairs of that house heated!?!?

2003:  Hubby finished grad school and got a long term sub position as a middle school art teacher.  I started teaching yoga and pilates and decided I didn't want to teach school full-time when I graduated in December, so that I could ensure some space in my life for this newer calling.  Sure, lots of people work full time and then keep a side gig, but I didn't choose LazyBones as my nom de plume for no reason!  I likes me some time to sit and think.  And poverty has always been less of a dissuading factor than an absolutely normal part of life for me, so...part time, yes!  This is also the year I said to my husband: as soon as we get health insurance, let's have a baby!  He agreed.  Little did we know the giggle the Universe was having over that simple statement!

2004:  Moved 45 minutes down the road from the big, cold lake into the nearest big-ish city (or at least bigger than the tiny town on Lake Ontario that was, after just 2 years, both boring and freezing us into catatonia).  I got lucky with a part-time teaching gig that offered health insurance for the both of us; we found an apartment and began to settle in, ready to start "real life".  We even began a house search, and started discussing baby names.  Then I found out my job was being cut at the end of the year.  But wait!  They had another offer for me.  But it was full-time.  And I would be teaching a self-contained class of students with severe emotional and behavioral problems.  Now, I'm a planner.  And this wasn't in my plan.  But after much reflection, I decided to "let life happen to me".  I took the job.  And life happened to me alright.  Life happened to me like a mugging happens in a dark alley, like a two-by-four happens to the back of your skull, like one drink happens to an alcoholic.  The last half of 2004 found me curled up on a daybed alternately sobbing copiously and obsessively watching Sex and the City so I could forget my problems and immerse myself in fluff.  Meanwhile, the long-term sub gig ended for the Hubby and he was fighting his own no-job blues the best way he knew how: with big cans of cheap beer.  A baby was no longer an option because it would force me to keep this job indefinitely and I was pretty sure babies didn't like mothers who came home from work only to cry and watch SATC and fathers who stared sadly out the window drinking big cans of beer.  Wow, 2004 sucked, yo! 

2005:  2005 started out the same way, but took a turn for the better when I resigned in June and we took all our savings and blew it on a cross-country road trip.  We spent the summer living out of our car and visiting family and friends, and returned home in August ready to start over.  Hubs began subbing in a bazillion different districts so he seldom had to teach anything but art and I picked up as many fitness classes as I could to fill my days.  We were even poorer now, but infinitely happier.  I will say that that the experience convinced me to listen to my intuition from that point on.  I'm a planner for a reason.  It's how I work, and it works for me.  My experiment in "letting life happen to me" was not one I care to repeat.  And perhaps I needed to suffer a bit in order to build up the bravery to forge my own path into the future.  I have a policy never to regret the past if I'm happy in the present, and so I've woven that terrible year into a narrative of freedom:  I was chained to a life I hated with chains I chose for myself.  These chains were tight enough to convince me it was worth walking into the unknown, because the fear of what could be became better than what was.  Is that true?  Who knows.  In the end, whatever we tell ourselves becomes the truth, and that's the story I've chosen to tell.  It makes that terrible year make a kind of sense, and makes it worthwhile in the end.  And in the end, what do we have besides our stories?

It's no news to me that I am overly verbose, but in the interest of keeping my audience awake (are you still out there?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?), I will end this post here and finish the next 5 years tomorrow.  Have a wonderful New Year's Eve everyone.  Goodbye 2009.  Welcome 2010!

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