Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Me of the Future

Obligatory apology and disclaimer: I realize it’s been over a month since my last post. In my defense, I was working 60 hours a week leading up to a crazy-huge two-week event for work, so the past month has been insane. I really hope I can stick to posting…well, more often and more regularly than I have been. (Let’s keep specific schedules out of the equation in the interest of not setting ourselves up for failure, shall we?)

Something I love thinking about is the time in my life several years back when my husband and I were both working in the non-profit theatre world. These were, financially, The Tough Years. Together, in our best year, we brought home a combined $55,000 – before taxes. This was in Philadelphia, where you get taxed both for working there and for living there, and where rent for a small place in a non-scary area just at the edge of the getting-scary neighborhood was an easy grand a month.

I remember the time when our truck broke down on the highway as we drove to my sister’s place in upstate NY for Christmas. We had our dog with us, because we couldn’t afford to kennel her. We had to get towed all the way back home, the two of us crammed in the cab of the tow truck with the dog between our feet on the floor. Then we had to call a friend of ours to help us rent a car, because neither of us had a credit card due to our poor credit. When I found out a few days later that the repairs would cost $1,200, I cried like a baby.

I remember of the time we scraped enough together for a monthly SEPTA pass for my husband, since it was cheaper than using weekly passes – and then he accidentally left it on the train after just a few days. I cried at that one too – we literally didn’t have the couple hundred bucks to replace the pass.

Our big treat back in those days, when we could afford it, was to get a Chinese take-out dinner (which we would walk to pick up, rather than pay a delivery charge) which amounted to $8. It was such a good feeling to treat ourselves in this small way when we could – and we couldn’t always.

I remember the times my sister came to visit us and brought us Pampers because all we could afford were crappy, cardboard-like generic diapers…the time our electricity got shut off and I had to change my daughter’s diaper by candlelight…the countless times we had “trouble with our phone company,” which is what we told our family when they couldn’t get a hold of us because our service had been shut off due to non-payment.

In short, we had unsteady jobs, no more than a couple hundred dollars in the bank, terrible credit, and an uncertain future – basically the exact opposite of our lives today.

Things just seemed so hopeless during those years that I often imagine what would have happened if the me-of-2012 went back in time and visited the me-of-2005. If I could have told myself how different our lives would be in just a few short years, what would have been my response? How would I have reacted to being told that, instead of renting a small row home, we would own a five-bedroom, three-floor house filled with furniture that we actually bought new? That we would both be working for large, successful companies and be making, well, significantly more than we were back then? That we would be blessed with a son in addition to our daughter and not have to rely on gifts and hand-me-downs to care for him, that we’d be able to give to multiple charities and our church and own two reliable vehicles, and that we’d have excellent credit scores, a solid savings account and retirement plans?

I know I never would have believed all of this was possible back then – such a complete financial turnaround and the achievement of so many of our goals would have seemed like a pie-in-the-sky dream and nothing more. I’m sure I would have laughed to be told such a ludicrous story.

But the flip side of this kind of reflection on the past – why I really like thinking about all this – actually has to do with the future. I can only wonder: if the me-of-2019 showed up today to tell me all about my life seven years in the future, what would she say? Given all the fantastic changes that have taken place in our lives over the past seven years, what more might life hold in store? What ludicrous story might I hear from the me of the future?

I truly could never have imagined back then what our lives would be like today, so I just love contemplating what unimaginable blessings and surprises await us over the next several years. If our lives today reflect what would have been crazy, pie-in-the-sky dreams back in 2005, maybe I should start conjuring up some crazy, pie-in-the-sky dreams today. Who knows? They might just come true down the road…


  1. Amen! I remember thinking that same yearly combined income was so incredibly large and yet we walked half a mile in the poring rain well past midnight to get to the free parking. I hated lunch production meetings because I never had cash and vividly remember ordering a large water as my stomach rumbled and I dreamt of the PB&J sandwich back at the shop. A fringe festival box office girl (she shall remain unnamed! not you) charged me face prices on tickets for my inlaws and I sobbed in the lobby when she told me she had charged my credit card $130. My god, they were hard times, thank goodness things have changed since 2005!

    1. OMG, it's so heartbreaking to hear all that and remember those times, isn't it? And yet, I am seriously truly grateful for them...I think about those times so frequently and it reminds me to say "Thank you, God!!" for all our blessings now. I just don't think you can (as easily) appreciate all you have if you haven't had to go without.