My parents were always obsessed with things. Owning things, saving things, keeping things, and just having more, more, more. It’s funny though, they never cared for what the other was keeping most of the time, they were only interested in what they had.
We moved house a few times when as I got older, and really, I’m not quite sure why. It might have been a bit of “we need a bigger place because we have so much crap” and it also might have been a bit of “keeping up with the Joneses”. The thing is, if they had chosen to keep the house I first remember, and they sold it today, they’d be multi millionaires, and the Joneses would be trying to keep up with them. As it is, we moved house 3 times before my parents called it quits and spilt everything down the middle. Their split wasn’t much after they’d paid off all their debts for all the stuff they owned and owed and now they’re both quite miserable. Or so it seems to me.
My Dad lives in a shed, or glorified granny flat at the back of some persons property out in the sticks. Just him and the landlords chickens and his aging dog. My mum lives in a rented house that is lovely and quaint, but it has an outdoor toilet, is freezing cold, has the stove top from hell, and rests itself upon 1/2 and acre of grass – that requires regular mowing. Something she can’t keep up with.
Both of them in their old age, in their retirement, are still working, still struggling, and still have nothing. Not even each other. It’s quite heartbreaking to see them that way, and to be able to look at them and see all the what ifs, and the different decisions they could have made, and know that if they had probably taken any of the 100 other paths they might have, things would probably be very different for them now.
The only advantage to having watched them fail so miserably, and to see them so lonely now, is to hopefully be able to apply what I’ve learned from watching them to my own life, and not make the same mistakes they did.
I often wonder if they hadn’t focused so much on consuming, on wanting other people to perceive them as wealthy and well off, and clever and all those things we all seem to want, if their marriage would have survived. If they might have actually had a relationship with each other, and not just lived in the same house. I suppose I am only on the outside looking in, and I’ll never really know, but any kid can recognise when their parents don’t really like each other. I think it was more my mother who got angry, my father just never noticed in time enough to change the outcome.
I think that things, pretty shiny, lovely things, they weigh us down. They make us heavy, they make us blind to life. Blind to the life we want and could be living, if we would only stop wanting stuff, and just wanted each other.