July 28, 2014


How Not to Get What You Want: The Agony of Expectation

agony_wantThe grass is always greener on the other side.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

How many times have you heard these sentiments, telling you that what you think you want may not bring the happiness you imagine?

I have wanted a great many things.

I wanted a great big, joyful family. Once married into one, I learned about great big, hurtful family politics and the impossibility of pleasing everybody all the time.

I wanted all of our kids at our house full-time for the summer, only later realizing my quiet days working at home are key for maintaining my focus (sanity).

Once I wanted to leave all corporate jobs behind and only work for myself. That was before learning how having clients can be like having a herd of bosses, all with different quirks, styles and reliability in payment.

Then there is the case of the rising rent.

Our landlords decided to raise our rent by $100 a month. This may not sound like a much, but the rent already knocked soundly against roof of our budget. My husband and I decided to see this an opportunity to finally make a move into a home that would allow me to lessen my client load and spend more time writing. Perhaps we could even find a bigger yard, or a shorter commute for him. This could be great!

We spent an exhausting week deciphering the secret code that property managers use to favorably describe the remarkably flawed properties they are trying to pass off as desirable. We sacrificed an entire Saturday to visiting homes deemed unsuitable by me or my husband.

We learned that if the ad describes a large yard, natural setting and classic stylings, we'd encounter house marooned in a sea of unkept wilds, with popcorn ceilings and brown shag carpet.

We learned that if the ad talks up granite counters, fancy appliances and walk-in closets, that this likely means that the house is a brand new townhome construction, smashed awkwardly against no less than eight or so other townhomes with slightly different paint schemes, a shared driveway, no yard at all and window that look directly into your neighbors rooms. If I pressed my nose to the glass at the same time as the neighbor, we'd be just six inches from kissing, glass not withstanding.

After ten houses, two-drive through meals and an almost complete collapse of marital harmony, we decided to call it quits and head home.


Oh, our yard is small, but look how cute and easy to care for. Look at our lovely living room with the furniture we just bought with our wedding gifts. See how welcoming my office looks now that I've finally gotten around to hanging the pictures. Oh, and look at how much crap we have every where that I certainly don't want to put into boxes.

Collapsed on the couch, clinging to each other, tired of bitter compromises and disagreements carefully disguised as rationales, I said to my love, "$100 really isn't that much. Once new project a month would more than cover it."

I looked up at my husband, watched his left eyebrow arch as he regarded me.

"Now," I said. "I like how things are right now."

He squeezed me and kissed my forehead. "And aren't we lucky to know it?"