Bathtubs or Barcelona?
We woke up at 6:30 this morning to make sure we were ready for the carpet guy to come in and install carpet in my new closet on steroids. Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out. This summer has become less about travel and more about making things work at home. You see, we are one of a few American homeowners who actually bought a house in the past couple of years that had ONE bathroom. Having just ONE bathroom doesn't seem too bad when you've been living out of hotel rooms for a year, or sharing a home with fifteen other people (using two baths), but once a teenager comes into the picture, one bathroom can be painful, inconvenient and down right strange here in suburbia.
So, we're taking the plunge and adding a bath to our home, remodeling a storage space into a master closet and moving some walls. Of course we've managed a number of remodels in various homes but this is the first time we're handing over a majority of the work to a contractor. While Andy is certainly happy to not have to do more than some painting and touch up work, I'm a bit twitterpated. Seeing a huge chunk of money being spent on something that is not a plane ticket or hotel room is out of my ken. In fact, every time I look at the bathtub, I think, hmmm, soaking in warm baths on cold Portland nights, or a week in Barcelona? I realize there are worse choices to have make (rent or food?) but as an avowed travel slut, Barcelona would have been my usual choice.
Something about this remodel is making me feel domesticated and not in a good way. It's not like we don't live in comfortable, homey surroundings; we do. But I've been able to delude myself into thinking that choosing travel frees me from having too many ties, or ultimately being a conventional grownup. However the addition of pipes, wires and yards of subway tile has left me feeling more grounded in a way than having a husband, kid, or dog ever did.
Martha Beck had an interesting article in the latest Oprah magazine on how to convert money into happiness. Essentially she divides life's purchases into things we need and love, things we need but don't love, things we don't really need, but love and things we don't need nor love. While she suggest you first spend money on the stuff you need, but don't love (insurance, money for retirement, something to wear) she suggests you go for the generic, or the minimum. But for the things you need and love, be as lavish as you can. This adds zest to an otherwise utilitarian existence. Of course if you don't need it or love it, then walk right by. And it you don't need it but love it, that is what we call a splurge. How we spend our time, our money and our energy tells the world a lot about what we value and who we are. And what I'm realizing is that my bathtub, like Barcelona is as much a need as a love. So if you wonder where I am once the weather turns cold and gray, follow the rising steam and you'll find me soaking in my tub, gazing towards a picture of the sun-soaked Spanish coast and the possibilities that remain, long after the dust has settled and the paint has dried.