Last week Chris found out he would get the "opportunity" to "interview" for his current position.
Isn't that awesome? Leaving your office to take the elevator upstairs to interview for the job that you're going to go back downstairs and keep doing for the rest of the day just as you have for the last five years?
That interview was on Monday. Poor Chris stopped 4 times at gas station bathrooms on his way to work that morning, so full he was of nerves. And the previous night's mexican food. Because he self medicates. He was pretty confident he interviewed well, you know, since IT'S ALREADY HIS JOB AND ALL. But, as the days went by he started doubting and becoming quiet. If the last two years of financial angst have taught us anything, it's that nothing is for sure.
That, and that the cats will eat lunchmeat in a pinch.
If Chris were to not get this job, then he would be unemployed by Monday with no prospects on the horizon and no medical insurance for our family.
Last night he dryly joked that maybe on Monday he and I could drive around checking pay phones for change, but I swear I heard a sob catch in his throat.
A year and a half ago when our short sale finally closed and we were down to our last nickel and inexplicably decided to move to The Most Stuck Up City in Southern California, I started practicing The Secret.
I wrote sticky notes to myself like "Bora Bora!", "Pay off credit cards!", "No more dented cans!" and stuck them all over the house. I was so desperate to believe that I just needed to ORDER a better life from the Universe, that I consistently visualized good things coming to me and regularly pushed away understandable thoughts such as "So this is what starving children in Africa are missing? Sticky notes?".
Ironically - or is it coincidentally - last year was even worse than the one before it.
If only I had known that was only the beginning.
The beginning of our new "normal". A normal that brings with it daily worries about things I once took for granted as easily as the air I breathed. Things like medical insurance and being a stay at home mom. Things like full tanks of gas and a kitchen full of groceries and a husband that doesn't get sent home during the day because "there's just no work".
If only I had known that next we would sell our things. First, it would be because we were "downsizing". Then it would be for "extra money".
Eventually, and secretly, it would be for the mortgage payment.
If only I had known that I would be forced to go back to work. That Savannah would have to go to child care. That Chris would get laid off.
If only I had known that I was about to grow up.
I've pushed my cart through Target many times over the last year marveling in amazement at the thousands I've blown there. All the while aching to buy JUST ONE FRIVOLOUS THING. The nails, tanning, and personal training are all a thing of the distant past. As are the TURKEY DOGS.
We've stayed home weekend after weekend unable sometimes to even afford the gas it would take to drive somewhere. We've started walking to parks, going to the library, and clipping coupons. We've conserved water, energy, and food.
I've watched our accounts - investments, checking, savings - drain away, taking my carefree attitude with it. I've cut back and wised up. I used to dream of Range Rovers and vacation homes. Now, I hope for groceries and rent money and the collection calls to stop.
It wasn't that long ago that I believed we would recover financially without feeling any pain. Now, I realize what a waste that would have been.
Without the last two years I wouldn't have learned to prioritize, to improvise. I wouldn't have learned what I'm made of. I wouldn't have learned that I can rise to the occasion.
I wouldn't have learned how strong Chris and I are together.
Most of all, I wouldn't have learned how to be truly, truly, overwhelmingly appreciative when Chris learned this morning that he got the job.
Thank you, universe. You can stop now. We have learned our lesson. THAT is the secret.
Now. I have some coupons to go clip. And maaaaybe a trip to Target? A small one?