I love my life

August 14, 2010

I feel like I’ve had a head cold for the entire year, which isn’t actually true,  but it seems like it.  Money is tight.  Life is complicated and messy.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Once upon a time, I had it all.  I had a brand new house, a pretty blue Honda.  A well-paying job with lots of room for advancement.  I had so many pairs of shoes, once in a while I would discover a pair I’d forgotten at the bottom of my big, walk-in closet.

Then one day – and sometimes it truly seems like it happened that fast – it was all gone.  Poof.  Gone.  I had a toddler and the clothes on my back and a few pieces of impractical furniture crammed into a low-rent moving truck that hauled my stuff all over the contingent United States and maybe Mexico before dropping it six days late in a cracked and ugly pile at my feet. 

I put my things in storage, and accepted help from loved ones until I could get back on my feet.

A friend gave me a job selling flooring.  I wasn’t just bad at it.  I was deplorable.  Here I was, the girl on the Dean’s list, the one with more scholarships than would fit on my resume.  The corporate golden girl, struggling to understand the difference between berber and plush. 

My shoe collection collected dust.  One day on the sales floor in a pair of three-inch heels made me realize why my coworkers wore orthopedic flats. 

I avoided running into people I’d known in high school.  I assumed they knew about my fall from grace.  I assumed they knew about my glorious rise to the top of the pedestal, and my clumsy fall back off again.   I’ve since come to realize that most people are too busy navigating their own crazy lives to worry about how I’m screwing up my own.

To say that life has humbled me is an understatement.  And thank God for it.  I am so much better off in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the totem pole.  At the top, way up there where the air is thin, it’s hard to see all those things that are so important.  It’s hard to breath deep, and it’s impossible to smell the flowers.

Since having my son, my formerly silky smooth hair is a stringy mess of hormonal fuzz.  I’m no longer polished.  Stress has given me wrinkles.  I’m still wearing the same clothes I hauled home with me two and a half years ago.  Any shopping I do now involves outfitting my ever-growing preschooler.

These days, when I run into an old classmate, I’m so glad it is now, and not then.  I might’ve been wearing better shoes back then.  But today, I have a happier, quieter soul. 

I’m tired.  I’m overwhelmed.  I could stand a few more dollars in my bank account.  But if I had to choose between my life now and my life then, I’d stay put.  I accomplished a lot on my climb to the top.  But I’ve accomplished so much more since falling back to the bottom.             

Before, all I had to show for myself was a resume – a piece of paper with too many words on it.  Now, I have a life.  It is hard.  And it is good.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on August 14, 2010.