This sounds ridiculous…but sometimes I miss the pain of the laundromat and the cheap, mostly not dependable brand items from Walmart we used to have all over our home.
Those days were so hard. When I began attending ODU, it became clear my parents weren’t going to be helping me out much as they were struggling financially so I was kind of dropped off and left there to figure it out. Just because a meal plan is included at the dorm you live in doesn’t mean you will always get a meal. And that doesn’t cover shampoo…and health care co-pays, and well…any of the other life things you’ll need when you’re on your own at 17 years old in a new town as a college freshman.
A lot of life happened. I was emotionally NOT ready to be on my own at that age. I was free to go anywhere I wanted, do anything I wanted and it started out as a slightly tough but glorious experience for me. The freedom to me was almost TOO good compared to how I felt being at home in Glen Allen for reasons of being in an unstable environment in my own house. So, I did what any slightly damaged young girl would do and I just partied it up. I had no idea how to deal with the pain of growing up the way I did and manage that emotional hurt and eventually, I experienced some really horrible things you’ve probably read about in a previous blog post. Those days were a nightmare in so many ways. I look back at pictures of myself and feel so bad for that little girl who had no idea that loving herself was allowed and that I was a good person regardless of my circumstances.
Fast forward years later and I’m working my butt off. Most of the time, two jobs at a time. Riding the public bus because I didn’t have car, never did really have my OWN car…and I wanted one. I wanted to get off work and go home like my friends. I wanted to get in my car, turn on the heat and be warm driving home…not stand with a bunch of strangers, some completely out of their minds, and wait in the cold, the rain and the snow for a bus to come pick me up. I wanted more and I wasn’t talking diamonds and glamour and luxury things… I wanted the basic tools most of my friends had just been given so I could live a little bit of an easier life…but there was a catch…I had to work. I was going to have to work my butt off to get what they had been given, and that was just what my life looked like. So, work myself into the ground it was!
I earned a car eventually (and cried like I never have that night driving home. I will never forget that moment). I paid rent and my share of the bills wherever I lived. And eventually… I met and started dating Mike and I remember that I felt like I lived on a new planet… cause this could NOT be the same Earth I had been on before!! Everything changed. Everything was so good like I had never known before. I didn’t own anything fancy at all. My car was a PIECE. I had him though. I had Mike and I didn’t own the nice purses and clothes my friends did but I knew I shined just as bright because of him. Those were the beginning of some of the best days of my life because I was slowly moving up financially (and I mean SLOWLY haha) but I could afford more life things and I got to do that all with him…which made it even better.
A few years back I had a summer that was so incredibly poor for me that I washed my clothes in a bathtub. And I did that thing where you keep adding water to the detergent when you’re low/out so how clean were these nasty restaurant clothes anyway?! Haha! I mean, really..I call those my Dunkin drive thru days because I used to get off the bus and walk THROUGH the drive thru to pick up the change people dropped on the ground. I was so desperate. The manager where I worked said women shouldn’t be paid more than minimum wage, so I wasn’t. So when Mike and I upgraded to being able to go a laundromat to clean our clothes…and we had to sit there together and watch Jerry Springer (lol!) or whatever else was on tv, it felt like a date. We were stuck in a place doing something really basic together but it was one of the best memories of my early relationship with him. I will never forget those days and I know he won’t either.
Another really vivid memory to me is shopping at Walmart together for home things. When we moved in together, we didn’t have a lot of things we needed for the house and kitchen so it was Mainstays and Walmart brand everything. Did I know it was mostly poor quality? Yes!! But we couldn’t afford much. Our trashcans, kitchen utensils, soap dispensers, shower curtains and rugs, bedsheets, EVERYTHING…that cheap brand with the blue square and black font. I remember getting those things and being so thankful for them. I remember how it felt to move “up” and although all my friends were getting the good stuff at Target, I was SO thankful to be able to affording life in general.
Sometimes, I miss those days terribly. Last year after we moved in we had to end up at the laundromat because something was up with our washer and yes with three little girls it was hard but a part of me felt so nostalgic and I got to tell the girls about when Mommy and Daddy spent a lot of time at one of these a long time ago. Cammy LOVED the story, Ellie asked for a quarter to get a snack from the machine haha! At Walmart sometimes I walk down the aisles with the curtains and kitchen stuff and think to myself, these were actually the good days and we didn’t even know it. And disclaimer — we still buy some household things from there! We like things that are quality and nice but sometimes we know we don’t need to invest heavily in certain items. Our beautiful sheer white curtains in our window room are Walmart brand and we absolutely love them. It always brings us back to those good old days full of hope and wonder for what our life would look like years down the road.
I know it’s hard to stay on track. I have ungrateful moments, too . When we moved to our little beach box we heard “ugh Colington road is so long and winding and annoying” and “you’ll hate the laundry being downstairs and outside” … and I’m not sure people understand how much of an attitude of gratitude we live with. I’m the girl who cries still on the beach road because I can’t believe it’s really where I live. The Outer Banks went from a haven one week a year from a crappy home life to a permanent sanctuary I am raising my girls in. I LOVE the winding three mile road back to our home. I have a washer and dryer! Who CARES if it’s outside! And yeah when they’re all teenagers this tiny three bedroom house may feel smaller but don’t tell me that now. We’re happy. Guys, you have enough fortune in your life right now in this moment to be connected to an expensive electronic device with internet reading this blog post — the grass is always green enough where you stand. Happy, happy Friday to my friends who have supported our blog and business for so long! We are ESPECIALLY thankful today for YOU!!!!