Big beautiful houses with amazing views and rooms stuffed full of expensive furniture have always been something I have envied. I love HGTV and touring homes of all kinds. I have always loved going through model homes and imagining which room I would use to write in. But lately, something is amiss. I feel empty in those big wonderful houses and I have to say that I don’t think I would want one anymore.
Years ago, I went to Mexico with my cousin. We took an old beaten up bus to what seemed like another side of the world. It wasn’t too far away from the commercialized places of Puerto Vallarta where our beautiful hotel was waiting for us or where the cluster of begging children waited in the outskirts, it was a town my cousin had researched and it was a place that made me happy. It wasn’t tropical or beautiful. In fact, it was dusty and kind of beaten up, like the bus we arrived on. But the people all seemed so happy and the children were what really touched my heart. They were playing with sticks and rocks and as happy as they knew how to be. I have never forgotten that picture in my mind and have realized that no amount of money can ever fabricate the down in the gut “happy” that they displayed. Their houses were less than modest and the town was far from prosperous and yet those people were rich in a way that is hard for me to explain.
When I moved into my very first apartment, all of my furniture was hand me downs. Furniture my parents let me take from my bedroom and others that my friend’s parents let me buy from them for a lot less than it was worth! We made due with wood shelves made from bricks and boards and I bought our 1950s stove and refrigerator at a garage sale down the street for $35 bucks! I would have to hammer the ice out of the freezer every few weeks but that was okay because I was in love and so happy.
I look back at those times and nothing in all the rooms filled with furniture can bring that kind of happy back. Our rent was $175 and our landlord knocked off $15 from the rent if I would sweep the stairs! He was wonderful. He knew how much $15 meant to us. He was such a wonderful landlord and I loved him God bless old Mr. Allen.
We lived a block away from the beach and though we didn’t have a lot, we always saved our change each week to walk up to Pacific Diner for Sunday morning breakfast. We had Saturday BBQs with our next door neighbors and walked on the beach. Every once in a while we would go to the swap meet but for the most part we were happy. The kind of happy those kids had in that little town near Puerto Vallarta. Everything about those days were simple and love filled our bank accounts and that seemed as if that is all we needed.
A few years ago I met one of my best friends from back in those days, who still lives near my old neighborhood at Pacific Diner with my daughter. It is still there and still good. Afterwards I took my daughter on a trip down memory lane to show her where her Daddy and I lived when we were her age now! It was bittersweet. I guess the message here is ; back in those days, we looked ahead, so wanting to move fast into the future. Today, we look back now understanding that THOSE really were the good old days and tomorrow these will be.
My mother in law tells us that when she was our age, they were just beginning their lives. They have done so much in-between and are still going strong. And it makes me realize that it is all relative. Someone else’s “stuff” may not seem like a lot and to other’s it may seem like wonderful treasures. I have lived in plenty and in want. And I know that I have not always appreciated what I have had and I have not had a lot and appreciated it more.
I have learned that I need to look at where I came from and really figure out if I need a huge house filled with furniture and great views or if just a rock and a stick might be enough. All I know is that where I sit, the view is perfect if it is with people I love and I can find the same kind of happy there that was just enough for those little kids in that dusty Mexican town who didn’t know any better, or perhaps knew more than all of us.
Or maybe I just need to go reconnect with the younger version of me, who for just a while, had just enough.