The New Me in My Old Life
We bought a house. In Essex. In the exact neighborhood where we really wanted to live. We’re excited and scared and happy and relieved and nervous. As my friend Polly said, “when was the last time you bought something with that many zero’s attached to it?” Never. We close at the end of June. We’re now “first time homeowners” and unfortunately the glory days of THAT being something of importance are over. We’re just a Northshore family with a boring mortgage that we have no idea HOW we will cover every month, signing paperwork for a house that would be $200K less if it were located just an hour away from here. And I’m so so so happy.Scottie is so so so concerned. And I get why. In fact, I'm lucky to have a friend who is worried about my big girl life choices. He's afraid that we are making this decision too quickly, that it’s based on emotions, that we are sending ourselves into financial turmoil and that it’s insane that we are paying PMI (private mortgage insurance) for 10 years (because we OBVIOUSLY didn’t put ANYWHERE NEAR 20% down). To fuel his fire, the house DESPERATELY needs a new roof (it won’t make it through the winter), the furnace is old as fuck and the home was built in 1815. If you were to put a marble down on one side of the living room, it would roll to the opposite side in 2 seconds and smash right into the lead painted floor boards.I’m the NEW me living in my OLD life. I’m back at work, interacting with people I haven’t seen in 7 months and almost everyday it feels like I’m having an out of body experience or I’m high on crack. I can’t get comfortable. I sob every time I get in the car by myself. Driving is clearly my thinking/feeling time because the things that come up when I’m playing tetris with my Volkswagen are deep. I see myself outside of the physical me. My memories are like watching a movie of my life for the past 6/7 months. And that movie makes me cry. It’s scary. When you go through the birth of your first born baby, get diagnosed with cancer, go through head & neck cancer treatment and get better, you don’t have time to watch yourself. You only have time and energy to do, to go, to choose to acknowledge pain but stay away from suffering. I held back so many tears because they would have done nothing except plummet me into self pity and now that I don’t have to worry about pitying myself, I cry freely… and a lot.The new me in my old life has nothing to do with anyone else. Sure, there are times I hear people complaining about the stupidest shit ever and I think, shut up, you are so lucky to be alive and I have an inner eye roll, but that’s their path, their experiences, not mine to (openly) judge or teach. In fact, the new me in my old life doesn’t care much at all about what other people do. Here’s what it is: The new me in my old life HAS AN URGENCY TO LIVE that wasn’t there before cancer. And it’s not fear based (I don’t think) or trendy like a YOLO tattoo. It’s deeply seeded and I hope it guides me and my decisions for the rest of my life.If I die in 5 years, I don’t want to regret how I spend this time. LIFE IS SIMPLE. Other people make it complicated. The shoulds, the judgments, the rights and the wrongs- that’s all someone else’s shit. Dig deep and figure out what’s best for YOU. If you want to homeschool your kid or send your kids to a school where goats run free and snack time includes goats milk and goats cheese and arts & crafts is making goat sweaters; do it. If you want to sell all of your shit and buy a one way ticket to Spain and eat cake and drink wine and spend your day climbing rocks; do it. If you want to move out of the city, leave your corporate job and focus on a start up small business that you are passionate about; DO IT. Live a life that MEANS something to you because YOU have chosen it. Not because someone else chose it for you. Or because someone else paved the way and you just mindlessly coast down the overworn and tired pavement. Think outside of the goddamned box. Again, I wish I could burn that box! It gets in the way and confuses the heck out of (usually) easy decisions. I hate it. Just do you. And answer this very simple question: want do YOU WANT?If I die in 5 years, will l think it’s stupid that I spent this 36th year of my life as a WAITRESS at Cala’s? Nope. You might think it is, but you’re “them,” you’re not me. I love that restaurant and I am happy while I’m at work. It suits my lifestyle and my family right now. There is no inner voice calling me to “get out”. If and when I hear it, I’ll make the change (my gut is my guide). If I die in 5 years, would I regret not trying to write a book? Yes. It’s my new path, my new joy and my passion that has been lying dormant for so many years. I don’t know anything about the publishing industry. Nothing. But I’m going to write and write and write until l have something “memoir worthy” to share with the world and then I’m going to hustle like Detroit to get it in paperback…fuck it… HARDBACK. Drop the mic, boom. I know it’s highly unlikely, but it’s what I want. And that’s what I’ll work towards. It’s what gives my life meaning TO ME. If you can’t answer “what do I want,” then can you answer “what do I NOT want” or “what would I regret NOT doing if I knew I only had 5 more years?” Last week I read an article by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) entitled “Not This.” Sometimes it’s easier to make life decisions based on what we know we DON’T want because we have found ourselves in a place where we SHOULDN’T be and only know we need to get out, even if we can’t see what’s ahead. Google it… it was a good one.Back to the house, which is my case and point about being the new me in my old life. I can’t listen to anyone else. Even if that anyone else is one of my best friends who is only looking out for my best interest. Omg, you should hear what my Dad has to say about this house and the money we are throwing away by buying it!!! I have to listen to myself and trust my gut. We bought the house because I want to watch Sam learn how to ride his bike down that street. We bought the house because when we walked into it, we didn’t even have to look at each other to know that this was “the one” because we could both FEEL it (yes, emotionally!). We bought the house because it’s big enough to host dinner parties and it’s located in the perfect spot for anyone and everyone to drop by and hang out and sit at the kitchen table while I cook and we talk shit. We bought the house because if I die in 5 years, I don’t want to regret how I spend this time. I want to live! I want to take up space and enjoy this sweet simple life and BREATHE. There’s no way in hell I’m taking the next 5 years to save my money so I don’t have to pay extra interest. I can assure you that when I die, “private mortgage insurance” will be the furthest thing from my mind. I hope to see flashbacks of Sam and Mike playing in the yard that is now ours and to see Sam’s sleepy morning face walking down the stairs that now belong to us (that badly need to be recarpeted) to eat his breakfast before school. That’s the good stuff. That’s what I want.