Monday, March 30, 2009

Portrait: Portland, Oregon

Three weeks ago, my fiancé and I were standing in our kitchen talking about the fact that money had become a huge topic for us. We made a solid six-figures, but there was never enough, we always wanted more, we wanted to save more, etc.... For some reason, we always craved more. The constant need for more felt heavy, almost making us sick with greed. Although we’d only been out of school for less than two years, we had quietly joined the rat race. MORE! and BIGGER! and BETTER! constantly pounded in our heads every day so much that we felt sick about it.

I literally said a prayer afterward that we might once again be grateful for the things we do have instead of always asking for more.

Seven days later, he told me his firm was closing their doors in 30 days. His last day of employment will be the day of our wedding. Three days later, I got a similar notice from my company.

All in one week, we got just what I had prayed for. Suddenly, everything we have is a blessing. The fact that we have heat is such a luxury, we haven’t used it in a week and just stay bundled up at home instead. We are so grateful for our old college cars, instead of eyeing vehicles with a hefty car payment. His birthday was Friday and instead of getting him some flat screen TV or taking him out to an expensive dinner, we were grateful for the friends that came over to have BBQ hot dogs and potato salad on our porch. And as cliche as it sounds, we are incredibly grateful just to have each other.

I’m hardly wearing make-up – saving what I have for our wedding day. We are taking public transportation. We are getting creative in a limited kitchen. We downgraded our phone plan, our TV, Internet and are finding free entertainment at home. We might have to move to another state. We will probably have to move out of our home unless a job offer comes fast. We had to un-invite 100 people to our wedding reception and instead, we’re having 20 people for dinner following the ceremony. It might be a short trek to another job, but it might be a long, long haul that we have to buckle down for.

A couple weeks ago, I had mentioned to him that I felt like the “economy” hadn’t touched us. Until the next week, when it did. We are still in relatively shallow water, and call me crazy, but I feel somewhat refreshed. Lighter. Stressed, yes, but suddenly the rats around us have gone ahead and left us. Maybe the feeling with be brief, but for now, I feel like we’re free from the race. Until further notice, we'll be stuck on a less flashy journey that is much scarier, but slow enough for us to notice the things we otherwise wouldn’t have thought twice about, and to really, truly feel grateful.

Portland, Oregon