You'd think it would be simple, knowing where happiness lies, but it isn't.
It's raining today, and I don't begrudge the weather because my beloved gardens need it badly. But it keeps me inside on a lazy Sunday, alone with my thoughts, and they seem to be winding down rainy day paths.
Tomorrow I go to the bank and transfer the money that will start paying for our trip this fall. On our incomes, Paul and I would never be able to afford Australia. It's my inheritance, my parting gift from my father who died three years ago this spring, that is paying for this experience.
The cheque came from the lawyer a few months after my father died, a long, slow, and painful death that left cracks in my family that are only now just healing.
One of my stepbrothers spent his money in a haze of good times; the other paid down his mortgage. My sister used it as the down payment on her first house. And I ... I looked at the money and decided I would put it away until the year I turned 50, celebrate that big birthday with this money.
Paul and I have never known financial security because we are both self-employed in an isolated place. We have made a trade off for the beauty that surrounds us. Our furniture is best described as Early Goodwill, our clothes as Country Zeke, and our tiny little log home will never be in House and Garden magazine.
Then, suddenly, there was this money.
Every so many months my bank would send me a financial statement about the inheritance. I would look at that piece of paper, the choices it represented, and wonder about what would make me happy.
New furniture? It would be wonderful to junk all this shabby mismatched stuff we sprawl on, maybe buy a great sound system, too.
Better car? I could have used that money to upgrade the Marnmobile from a little Toyota to something a lot peppier.
Add on to the house? I considered that for while. It would be great to have a room of my own, as Virginia Woolf so aptly remarked.
Landscaping? Oh man, there's still a big corner of the property that needs work. With that money I could call in the bulldozer, the backhoe, maybe make me another pond ... oh yeah, don't think I wasn't tempted, because I was.
But in the end, instead of buying things, I chose to buy five weeks of freedom roaming in a sunburnt land, a second spring on the other side of the world.
I wonder what my father would think of my decision. Perhaps it's better I not know.
Things were never easy between my father and I. It was hard for a conservative small town cop to accept the politics of his left leaning university educated daughter.
He never could understand why I married Paul, why I didn't pick a professional man and the financial security such a marriage would mean.
He was appalled that the year the separatist Levesque government was elected (and English speaking Quebeckers were streaming out of this province) was the year Paul and I chose to move here, leaving behind good paying jobs and a secure future in Ontario.
He thought I was crazy for only having one child, for not producing a big brood as he had.
But through all our disagreements, through his disappointment in my life choices, he did his best to let me know I was still loved. He didn't hide that I made him crazy, but he also let me know I would always be his daughter.
In the end it was my father who steered my final choice on how to spend his parting gift. To pass time in the hospital, we had been talking about a trip he'd made with my stepmother to Alaska three years before he died. He couldn't get over how beautiful a place it was, about what a great time they'd had.
He said they had debated about spending the money, but was grateful they'd gone when they did because shortly after that his health began to slide.
Thinking over our conversation on the anniversary of dad's death this spring, I came to realize that the big regrets are the things you don't do, not the things you don't buy.
So the year I turn 50 is not the year of the decent furniture, the spiffy car, the room of my own or a finished landscape. Nope, the year I turn 50 becomes the year I have a big adventure.
Thank you, dad.
Want to delve into my sordid past?
She's mellllllllllllllting - Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 - Back off, Buble - Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Dispersed - Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - Nothing comes for free - Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 - None of her business - Friday, Nov. 04, 2011 -
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