On (Kind of) Arriving

I’ve been trying to write a post all week. I’ve been failing miserably.

I’ve written a couple of things. They are unfinished. Or unpublishable. Most are both.

I start and stop. Erase. Rewrite.

Usually I close my laptop and watch something on TV. I don’t even really read blogs that much. Mostly, when I have the odd free moment, I just want to escape from my life, And even the lives of other ordinary women like me aren’t enough of an escape.

I just can’t figure out what to say. Or how to say it. I don’t really even know how I feel about most of what is going on right now. And while it used to be a cathartic exercise to sort out the complicated thoughts and feelings, now it just feels like a chore. It doesn’t bring relief, it just sits like a weight on my chest, in my finger tips.

So I don’t do it. And I honestly think that’s alright, to not write. But then I miss this space, and the meaningful interactions I have here, and I’m not sure how to proceed. If I don’t write I become isolated and I feel withdrawn. But if I do write, I feel confused and frustrated.

I tell myself to come on here and just write about the easy stuff. Write about minimalism and how I’m still attempting to embrace it, but how quickly and easily the stuff creeps back in. Or about work and how I feel like I always have one foot out the door, except I don’t really have any actual plans to leave. Or my marriage, and how it’s better than it usually is, but it’s not actually super great. It’s just not bad.

That is kind of my whole life right now. Most things are okay. They aren’t super great, but they are better than bad. Maybe this is what arriving looks like?

At my old apartment I had to haul my laundry down a dark, dirty alley behind my building and wait in line to use the one washer and dryer that all nine units shared. The machines sat right next to the giant trash and recycling receptacles and massive rats scurrying to and fro were a common occurrence. I had find parking in a ridiculously busy neighborhood where no one else who lived there had parking and people who didn’t live there were trying to park so they could enjoy the many restaurants within walking distance. I always used to say that when I had off street parking and an in-unit washer and dryer I would have arrived at my life.

Well I have off-street parking and an in-unit washer and dryer, but the washer and dryer are in a weird, gross part of the garage and there isn’t a proper escape for the lint blower, plus we let our tenant use them, so it’s still dirty and dark where I do my laundry and I sometimes have to wait for some else to be done using the machines. And my garage door doesn’t open automatically so I have to get out of the car and hoist the heavy thing up and down, and it gives me splinters and the entrance is super narrow and sometimes I scrape the car backing out and there is hardly enough room to open my door once I’m parked and lots of times someone is partially blocking my driveway so I can’t get in or out anyway.

So I guess I’ve arrived at my life, but it’s not at all what I was expecting it to be. It’s not a laundry room with a tiled floor and painted walls that I can walk into without putting shoes on and that no one else is ever using. And it’s not a garage where the door rises effortlessly (on my part) with the press of a button, and there is plenty of space for my car and all the people who need to get out of it and no one is ever blocking me in or out. Most of it’s a lot like what I thought I was leaving behind, I just have a little more say in it all than I used to, except I’m still constrained by reality (read: money) and I still don’t see things improving any time soon.

I don’t know quite how to tie this up, but I guess what I mean is, my life, the whole of it, feels like the garage with the washer and dryer. It’s what I thought I always wanted, but it’s not what I expected at all. It’s almost like when I was wishing for it, I wasn’t specific enough, and before I knew it, I was getting something that technically fits the bill, but it’s actually what I was hoping for. Or maybe it’s just that in life, you don’t get to choose the important stuff. Or you do, but you can’t possibly know what you’re ultimately going to get.

Or maybe this is just the biggest pile of steaming first world problems a person could stumble across, or into, and I just need to shut my spoiled, privileged mouth and move on.

Maybe it’s D. All of the above.

Of course people always told me, when in doubt, choose C. Always choose C.


  1. This reminds me of my expectations for “having made it” by the target age of 25 (what???). I was so disappointed, that I decided I’d never do that to myself again. Ha!

    “THIS isn’t what I meant,” is a common thought when we technically arrive at our self-imposed goals. It’s so frustrating, but also laughable.

    You know that I don’t qualify my problems by first world, second world, etc. All that matters to me is that they’re MY problems. Don’t diminish you’re own worries by thinking it could be worse. It can always be worse, but that doesn’t mean they’re not REAL problems.

  2. Definitely D, all of the above.

    Being an adult is exactly like that. You can have everything you want, but you have to get it all for yourself. It’s very tiring sometimes.

  3. Our w/d are in the garage this year while we are on leave. It is the cost of living someplace worth living. If you want a separate laundry room, move to a small town in the South where the weather is awful, your local election choices are the libertarian vs the tea party republican, and there’s nothing to do. I would love to trade off a garage laundry for city and weather amenities even at 2x the cost, but not enough to leave my job.

    1. Except some of us live in large cities in the south, great 4 seasons of weather, many choices in every level of elections. Good schools, fantastic restaurants and family activities. Sure my laundry room is only 300 square feet, but I am ok with it since I am surrounded by open minded people.

  4. Agree with pretty much everything Courtney said. This is a great post, I also see the dark humor “This isn’t what I meant!” said the woman to the genie as he shrugs his shoulders “well, that’s what you said, isn’t it?”

    1. This! This genie bit is exactly what I’m talking about. Except when I moved there I was SO THRILLED. I hate that I don’t still feel that way every day. I do a lot of days, I’m so thankful to have what we have. It’s just hard sometimes not to want more.

  5. It all boils down to expectations, doesn’t it? For 10 years, we had to lug bags of dirty laundry to the closest laundromat, We often stayed (and wasted) for hours. I remember how steaming hot it was in there especially in the summers. I told myself that I’ll never complain once we get an in-home washer and dryer. Since I didn’t even imagine a nice laundry area with tiled floors, I think it’s been easier for me to appreciate what we have. Having said this, maybe you can put aside some money to retile the floor and paint the walls? That would certainly make the chore less dreadful.

    1. Honestly, I can’t believe I’m even writing this. Me from 10 years ago would slap me across the face. And truly, I am very thankful for what we have. I washed cloth diapers in a coin laundry for three years! I used to change $200 into quarters at a time! I guess we become complacent and end up wanting more. Or maybe that’s just me. I clearly need a gratitude adjustment.

  6. You so totally capture our humanity. You really do have a gift. You have done the laundry with quarters and lugging around of baskets full of clothes, you have done the rats next to washer/dryer, you were grateful to arrive at semi-private laundry facilities but they are not always freely available and your car gets scratched and the washer dryer is not in a clean nice space. You are still grateful not to be taking the wash down to the stream with crocs in it, but this isn’t at all the dream of adulthood you carried from watching Alice in the Brady Bunch or the ads on tv or in magazines. We are all so glad we are not 12 year old married women in rural parts of Syria/Afghanistan/poverty areas of West Virginia. But oh glory we’d like to to be Mrs Brady (not Alice). And, this is reasonable and normal given our upbringing. But that doesn’t make it easy, nor does it take away our human longing for the perfect images of life that we grew up having.
    This is the reality of our lives. You share the appreciation for good fortune and the longing for the dream we were told would be real. It was more real in the 50’s (except for the alcohol women consumed with cigarettes and antidepressants) and then the dream changed to the perfect home-life and a wildly successful fulfilling career (not job) … and the reality today for your age group isn’t what we were sold and told. I am not going to talk politics because that is not right on your site. But oh boy is it political. And real. And some people are profiting financially from it all, but not most of us. Despair isn’t the right answer. Anger and action is better. Voting. How we raise our children of all genders and telling them the truths of the ‘isms’. And, yours are not old enough for those discussions yet. But know you are telling the truth and you are telling important truths and telling them well. I am impressed by you and your cohorts who comment here. And so proud of you all. What a bloody long painful slow path women are walking in this world … but you all are still walking forward. Thank you.

    1. I really do think we have been sold a dream that can’t be achieved, and we’re paying the price for that. I really wish we’d been fed a different message about what is possible. And of course, it’s always going to be hard to be the generation that ends up in a place no one expected they would end up: quite probably achieving less financial security (among other things) than their parents despite having grown up with so much more than they had.

      Recently a friend bought a really beautiful house (for an obscene amount of money) and when she was talking about it she mentioned that it’s the nicest house she’s ever lived in, and I realized that is what feels wrong about some parts of my life: it’s not as good as I’ve had it before. My house will be significantly smaller, and less attractive, than the house I grew up in, and my kids will go on WAY fewer vacations and never to the amazing places I went to as a kid. The golden age of my life, in many ways, is already behind me. I guess I thought I’d have more say in what my adult years look like, but it doesn’t feel like that at all.

      You’re right that anger and action are better responses than despair, and I try to veer toward them, but it can be hard when I’m so tired. Good lord am I tired. I wish anger and action didn’t require so much energy. 😉

  7. I think there’s a balance–no need to beat yourself up about first world problems but sometimes it’s good to remember how good we have it. We went to Yosemite over Labor Day weekend, and I had been planning it for months (our first vacation since May 2014), and I had this fantasy of family and nature togetherness. It wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t what I’d hoped. My 2 yo kept everyone up the first night and I was literally thinking “why did I have a 2nd???” (I do not do well on little sleep.) This was right after that poor Syrian boy washed ashore. And I was thinking to myself “you asshole–if your biggest problem is your 2 yo won’t sleep when you’re staying at a lodge in Yosemite national park, you have no business complaining!!!” So, yeah.

    I think there is something to the phenomenon that we get used to better things.

    1. It is REALLY good to remember how good we have it, and not just sometimes, because we have it SO, SO GOOD.

      I have a hard time with vacations because I really build them up in my mind and then when they don’t deliver in the ways I want them to, I’m disappointed. I’ve gotten better at this, ESPECIALLY since I’ve had kids, because when they are with me it’s never as fun as I think it will be and even when they aren’t, I’m expecting EVERY MOMENT to be perfect (because my kids aren’t around to mess it up) and of course every moment can’t be perfect. I’ve had enough disappointing vacations to REALLY bring down my expectations and now I end up having more fun. Unless it all goes to shit.

      I’m sorry your Yosemite trip wasn’t what you hoped it would be. And I’m sorry you felt guilty afterward…

  8. I had to smile at the laundry part, because my laundry is also in the garage and it drives me bonkers to have no laundry room, folding table, etc… but really, we don’t have to go the laundromat, and it’s good to remind ourselves of that sometimes. 🙂

    Sometimes I feel like you do about looking around at my life and it just not being what I envisioned. I truly loved international business & travel… and that’s just SO not how my life turned out. Overall, though, I’m happy with where we’re at and what we do. We don’t make much money, but my parents were SO broke when I was growing up that I don’t feel like my life is lacking in material things – we never took fancy vacations or drove nice cars, etc.etc… so in a way, I think it’s kind of nice that I don’t feel like I’m living with “less” now because I don’t know what I’m missing, if that makes sense?

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