Friday, April 22, 2011

Letting Go (and why Ethiopia sucks)

This week’s life lesson: letting go is hard. I mean, it can be really, really hard. Having done a recent purge of about half of my worldly possessions, I was beginning to pride myself on my ability to be emotionally detached from my “stuff.” The last month has shown me that this is not entirely true. Some things still really hurt to get rid of, especially the last three.

It started with the house, Oh, sure, I was more than ready to leave Idaho and very ready to leave home ownership behind. Still, when the last of the stuff had been packed, sold, given away or thrown away and I found myself staring at a completely empty living room, I started to tear up. It was rather unexpected and very unpleasant.

I just started to remember all the joy the house had brought me, how it felt like home the first time I stood in that empty living room and all the plans we made that would never happen. Suddenly reality was staring me in the face. Instead of allowing myself to keep being sad, I walked through every single room in that house and I remembered all the good things that had happened in each one. Then I bowed my head and said a prayer for the new owners, wished them as much joy as that house had given me and none of the stress, and tried to fill it with positive energy. Then I dried my eyes and walked out for the last time.

I’d been so pissed off when we’d made our first trip over the pass from Idaho that I hadn’t even wanted to look back. When a friend suggested we bag up Dexter’s excrement and chuck it at the state sign, I was pretty tempted. But that day, it was sunny and beautiful in Coeur d’alene and I didn’t want to do anything to hurt it. Like a divorced couple who has said every hurtful thing possible, mourned, signed the papers and at last accepted their fate, I slunk off quietly into the daylight and begrudgingly wished it well.

The next thing was the couch. Oh, the couch. I happily gave away our sectional, but insisted we bring the couch from the bar. It was comfortable, it had barely been used, it was attractive and went with everything, and it was small. At least, I thought so. Mr. W had some concerns about it since we’d had to take a window out of the basement to get it to fit. He suggested we take our futon. I threw a fit.

“I am 29 years old,” I said dramatically. “I am not going to sit on a fricking futon.” We brought the futon mattress, which is comfy and perfect for guests, and left the broken frame I’d had since college. We brought the couch. We hired a young man to help us lift our heavy things and he and Mr. W saved the couch for last.

Watching those two try and get the couch up the stairs to our apartment was like a scene out of Friends. When I jumped in to try and help, it seriously looked almost exactly like this:

By the time we realized it wouldn’t “Pivot!” anymore, the damn thing was stuck in the hallway and Mr. W looked like a tomato. He wiggled under the couch and marched toward the moving truck.

“I’m gonna get a saw and saw it in half!” he shrieked. When he realized he hadn’t packed his saw- get this- because the couch took up too much room in the truck, well, that wasn’t a very pleasant moment, to say the least.

At last, we managed to get the couch free from the stairs (damaging the stairwell in the process) and placed it on the sidewalk with a giant “FREE” sign on it. Within 20 minutes, the couch had a new home. I was crushed. I loved that couch. Aside from one Mermaid Martini picture hanging in our kitchen, it was all that remained of our epic bar. Just like that, it was gone.

Not only did I learn a harsh lesson in letting go, I learned to be grateful for what I did have and not be such a snob. Rather than invest in a new couch when we’re likely going to move again in 6 months (hopefully just to a bigger apartment in this building, because moving sucks), we went to Ikea, bought a futon frame, and I am sitting on a futon at 29. And you know what? I’m grateful just to have a damn futon in the first place. Screw it.

The last thing was the hardest of all to part with and still hurts. It doesn’t make sense for us to have two vehicles in this city. It also doesn’t make sense for us, a child free couple, to only own a minivan. With heavy hearts, we placed our beloved van, Butters, up for sale. We needed the money more than we needed him.

 I used to loathe minivans and a part of me still does. But Butters was special. He took us across the country and made our dreams come true. He was reliable, comfortable, awesome, and loved. Thanks to Mr. W’s killer designated driving skills, he also housed more hot chicks than any minivan in the history of all time.

We looked at the Blue Book value of the van and made our asking price slightly lower. We knew our “bottom line” price which was 400 lower than that and happened to be exactly what we needed to pay what we needed to pay. We aren’t greedy, but we knew what Butters was worth. A young man emailed me and asked if I’d take 700 lower. I replied with our “bottom line” price and explained that we truly couldn’t afford to go lower and with the van being in such good condition, he was getting a deal. He sent his father and brother (whom the van was for) to look at it.

They were Ethiopian and I had a terrible time understanding them. I did my best and was extra nice to them in the process. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed. The man made his son in law look at the van on his daughter’s sixth birthday and kept asking me, “You give me deal? You give me deal? 300 off? 100? For me? It for my grandkids!” Well sorry buddy, I truly don’t give a crap about your grandkids. You aren’t going to guilt me into giving you more of a deal than I already am. I was polite, but firm. They said they’d take it, we shook on it, and they’d return the next morning with the money. They also said they wanted us to go to the DMV with them for the title transfer for whatever reason. Ugh.

I had a job interview the next morning. I knew in my gut that the man was going to try and talk Mr. W down. Mr. W is a much nicer person than I am. I knew these people could afford our already lowered asking price, no problem. I sternly told Mr. W to stick to his guns. If he went lower, I said, they were taking food off our table. Just before I left for the interview, Ethiopian man called.

“I come now,” he said. “You have Bank of America there? You take me?”

I sighed and told him we would. I don’t understand. These people came from a country where merely surviving until age 30 is a huge feat requiring video game-like reflexes and incredible survival skills. Yet they couldn’t locate their own bank or go to the DMV? Whatever. Poor Mr. W would have to handle it alone. I told him one last time to stick to his guns.

Sure enough, I was treating myself to a pre-interview Americano when I got the text. They tried for 300 off first, then 100 off. I sent a bunch of pretty evil texts to Mr. W. He actually started to walk off when the man said, “OK, we go to bank now.” Apparently while he was inside the bank getting the money, his wife preached Jesus to Mr. W nonstop, harassed him about going to church, and chewed out her granddaughter for liking “secular” music. It was true divine intervention that I wasn’t there, because that sale would not have happened. Trying to screw us over, making us take them all over town and then harassing my husband? Oh hell no. Gandhi was right when he said “Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Now, logically I know that not all Ethiopians are like that. But if they are, I feel a tiny bit less sorry for them. Sorry.

Later I got the text that Butters was gone (probably to his demise, he said, with the way the crazy woman drove). I made it through the interview, lunch with a friend, and the long bus ride home before walking to the apartment and bursting into tears. I was still sobbing hysterically, much to my embarrassment, when Mr. W returned home.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “Did the interview not go well?”

“It went great,” I sobbed. “But I miss Butters! Wahhhh!”

Mr. W cheered me up, like he always does, by reminding me that we’d left our Human Rights Campaign sticker on the back. It’s a very pro gay organization with ideologies that would explode the head of that rude Ethiopian woman… and they had no idea what it meant. The idea of them driving around unknowingly preaching equal rights for all made me smile.

I got the offer for the job yesterday, it’s much less stressful just having one vehicle to insure, and best of all, we can pay rent and eat now. Letting go, it seems, is worth it. But it’s not easy. 


sherryrose said...

it's not just ethiopians- russians, iraquis...i've seen MANY MANY people play the stupid card to try to weasel a better deal. makes me mad every time. it's a game and they're PROFESSIONALS at it. and trust- when they need to, they can speak english VERY well.

POOR BUTTERS! he will be missed! and the couch too- i only saw a few of what were i'm sure MANY good nights in that basement with that couch. SAD.

i'm SO EXCITED for this move for you because i know it will be awesome, but i'm sad you've had to let so much go to get there. it WILL be worth it, but that's hard to see now :(

LOVE YOU. and just remember how youthful the futon makes you feel ;)

gatordad said...

Your new job must be going well since you haven't done any new blogs for awhile. That's good and bad news for the rest of us. We love you and want you to be happy...but, where is my great writing from you that I like? After all, it IS all about me! Right?

JessicaLee said...

Haha, when you sent this comment I was working on a new post!

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