Friday, May 25, 2012

saving my life: lessons learned.


"Time has taught me to be patient and flexible. I have to realize that maybe it wasn't meant to be right now, but that doesn't mean it can't be next month or next year. It's inevitable that you get there in the end."

- Glenda Bailey

This week, we were supposed to sign a lease on a house Jordan and I both loved. We had thought about it, prayed about it, pro'd and con'd over it, and we were ready. Of course, then it hit me late one night that I couldn't remember if the house had a dishwasher. After multiple calls to the real estate company and back and forth with owners and property managers, we realized this house we loved so much, this house with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, did not, in fact, have a dishwasher.

And I know some people are rolling their eyes, because isn't a dishwasher a first world perk? Didn't our grandmothers and sometimes our mothers easily wash dishes by hand and leave them to dry on the kitchen counter? And isn't that what cute dish towels and drying racks are for?

But I know my life. I am 26 years old, and I know me, and I know my husband. I know our schedules are busy and full and more often than not, our sink is full of dishes already, and that's with a dishwasher at the ready. I know that even though at first, I'd be super excited to wash my dishes by hand, to use cute dish towels and carefully wash and dry pretty plates, by month two or three, I'd be weary and frustrated. It wouldn't be fun anymore, and I'd be resentful, and the house I once loved would be a disappointment.

When you look for a house and when you try to simplify your life, you discover a lot about yourself. This simplification process has hardly begun, and already I can tell: It's going to get ugly. Things are going to get real, and fast. I am going to be slapped in the face with the realities of what I like and don't like, of what commitments I treasure and which ones I wish I could trash. I can tell by the time July and August roll around, I will know a whole lot more about myself and how I treat people and commitments and time, and why I hate some things and love others. I doubt it's going to be a beautiful process, but what I've already learned proves to me it will be worth it.

In the meantime, I am learning a lesson in patience.

I am learning that sometimes, we have to wait for the things we really want. We have to be okay with the fact that the rest of the world might think us stupid or silly, that we might feel alone and misunderstood for a little while, but in the end, it will all shake itself out.

The people who love us will understand. They will roll their eyes right along with us. They will laugh and they will be kind and they will not pass judgment. They will tell you what they think, but they will do it in love. They will understand why you say yes and why you say no, why one house is perfect and another isn't quite up to snuff.

It's not often I look back on a week and think, "Wow. I learned a lot." Those days, I was afraid, might have ended when I put the halls of school and the pages of the great books behind me. But this week, I discovered that wasn't true. I am learning something every day, and the lessons that life is teaching me are often better, or at the very least, more relevant, than the ones I learned in school. This week, I remembered who I am and why I was made this way. I learned it might take a few you-can't-have-thats before you get what you're looking for. I learned that disappointments and hurts shape us; they make us stronger and tougher and ready for the often greater challenges headed our way.

Yes, I wanted that house. I wanted to sign a lease and begin working on projects and have a slow, leisurely moving process. I wanted to say we lived in the blue house, wanted the chance to get to walk to work in the Florida sunshine, wanted to put my feet on hardwood floors and lush green grass.

But we had to say no. We had to choose the unknown alternative, which is scary and frustrating in all kinds of ways.

That's what growing up is, though. It's making the best decision for you, even when other people don't get it, even when you yourself feel a little confused and very much alone.

Real life lessons aren't always as fun as the ones I learned in school, mostly because I am far more likely to fail these tests than I am to pass them. These lessons, though, aren't about passing and failing, about gold stars or straight A's. They're about self-discovery, and this week, the hope and promise that I might at the very least know more about myself now than I did on Monday just so happened to have saved my life.

photo by Steven Michael

9 comments:

Kari said...

We lived without a dishwasher for three years, and it was non-negotiable after that that we would have one. We cook a lot, and a dishwasher is a priority for us. No eye-rolling here.

Sabrina said...

I have been without one now for 2 years and I will do a cartwheel once I get to have a dishwasher in my new place:) Watch HGTV's Househunters....those people will make you feel like you are calm, relaxed, and normal! I liked every bit of the things that you learned this week. I always say it this way, your 20's are so hard and full of difficult choices and decisions. It seems like it never is going to end! Also, Mel and I lucked out in finding our cool place in Tally by browsing realtor.com.

Lauren said...

"That's what growing up is, though. It's making the best decision for you, even when other people don't get it, even when you yourself feel a little confused and very much alone."

This - this right here is truth. Thanks for putting it so eloquently Annie.

brie. said...

a dishwasher is an imperative. particularly if you are doing any level of entertaining or hosting (community groups perhaps) no eye rolling here. my husband and i had 14 things on our list of must-haves for a flat when we were searching last year. we prayed over the list, offered our house to god and we have every single one.

i don't dread company, or home group or anything really, because the kitchen can clean up in about 10 min, because of that dishwasher. it's a must. and the dishwasher is just as important on wednesday morning for my breakfast dishes as it on wednesday night for our home group - it give me no end of gladness and contentment. i'd pass up a house without one also. cute dish towels aren't reason enough. :) good lesson and good post!

Missez B said...

I don't have a dishwasher and never have had one so I don't know about that but I do know about must-haves because I have a list myself so I can relate on that level. But at the same time this post was about so much more than a dishwasher and I loved it.

The Runs said...

Across the street from my humble abode lies an empty townhouse for rent. Yes, it may not have a yard or a porch and may, in fact, be no bigger than the one you live in now. BUT, it does have a dishwasher. Just sayin...

Bec said...

My husband and I are twenty somethings and we hand wash the majority of our dishes. I'm protective of my pots and pans and refuse to put a lot of my bakeware into the dishwasher. 20 minutes of washing and 5 minutes of putting away (we use a drying rack) every other day really isn't so bad. My mom handwashes pretty much everything so I guess that's just the way I was raised! Hope you find a house you love.

ThePixie said...

Lessons in patience are hard, but oh so worth making it through.

Kristin said...

You're right Annie. You need to stick to your list, and brave the unknown to find the home that will function BEST for you! It's out there, and boy, will it be worth the wait! Everybody has different "must-haves" because everybody's life looks just a little bit different. That's ok. The people who really matter will get that. Proud of you for sticking to your guns (or, ahem, dishwashers)!