October brings the return of city camping, and Lane fell asleep outside in a blanket tent on our fourth floor balcony every night for a week with the sounds of people walking outside and traffic in the background. (We brought her inside after she went to sleep.) She saw the moon and the star. Yes, just one star, which is all we can see where we live. I want to take her some place where she can see what the sky really looks like.
Since Doug decided to take a year off, it opened up a multitude of possibilities for the coming year. I’ve felt like I am writing my own story and anything can happen.
Knowing we are giving up our apartment so we can travel for the year, I’ve tried not to buy anything that we won’t take with us.
I’ve tried not to buy clothes knowing we’ll want to pack light. For the past year I’ve been trying to buy fewer clothes anyway, realizing the number of clothes I own is based more on habit than practicality.
Since we’re reluctant to eat out to take care of food allergies, there aren’t many places for us to go eat or shop. It’s felt like No Spend Month if it hadn’t been for the baby backpack carrier I bought for our trip and the several bags of Kettle chips we’ve eaten lately.
Last week I picked up the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years* by Donald Miller. When two cinematographers want to create a movie based on his memoir, they decide his real life is too boring, so he sets out to edit his life to create a better story: “A character who overcomes conflict to get what he wants.”
Just when I was feeling like it was odd to not buy things for our home, I turned to page 121:
Last year, I had to go through all twelve months of my bank statements and highlight anything I could write off. At first I started the assignment sort of excited, because I thought I might save money on my taxes. As I highlighted potential business write-offs, however, I began to realize the stuff I spent money on indicated the stories I was living. By that I mean the stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions. And those ambitions weren’t the stuff of good stories.
I actually bought a Roomba vacuum cleaner, for example. I highlighted that line on my statement and then looked over at it sitting in the corner of the room. I’m not sure why I thought I needed a Roomba, but apparently I had nothing going on that day. I think I turned it on a couple of times just to see how it worked, and after that I forgot about it and used a broom. I’d bought a new truck that year, and I’d moved from a house to a much nicer condo. Nothing against a nice condo, but I privately wondered whether I was a protagonist telling an exciting story who happened to live in a nice condo, or whether I was a protagonist telling a boring story about trying to pay off his nice condo. Looking over my bank statements, I feared the latter might be true.
Most of the things I buy are not glamorous or exciting. Toilet paper, for instance. I don’t think that every purchase needs to signify deep meaning, and my duties during the day are not going to land me in a movie, but this chapter did remind me about what I spend my time and my thoughts pursuing. While I want our home to be comfortable, I don’t want to go shopping to fill the time and pursue additional comfort while missing something better. I’ll just enjoy what I have here for now.