I say "learning" to do without, not "doing" without, because after almost 2 months, I'm still pouting like a petulant child.
James and I have always regarded ourselves as a couple that enjoyed the simpler things. Spending time at home, with family and friends or without. Cooking together, playing solitaire on the computer, watching movies on tv on a Saturday evening with a slice of cake (yes, I know, most people eat popcorn, we prefer cake with icing, or custard, or if you're James - both). In fact, our friends (and some family) find us quite boring because we don't really enjoy getting dressed up for a night in town. I like a good dance and a martini as much as the next gal, but it just wasn't our lifestyle. We were quite content to have Nando's for dinner, then return home at around 7pm for a night of Guitar Hero or Lego Star Wars on Xbox.
This may sound awful to some of our generation, but it suits us just fine. So when we moved into our first home, we were in for quite a shock. And since James is away during the week, he's had a soft introduction into doing without. Doing without a tv, doing without internet, doing without a home phone. Yup, this means, no phone chats, no movies, no sports, no sport updates online, no streaming, no Skype and most assuredly, no Xbox gaming.
(We hit a few road blocks in getting INTO the housing market.)
Needless to say, I am on a daily journey of learning to do without. A house that isn't finished, rooms that have no drapes, bare walls and books that have no bookshelf to call home. The house is quiet, and its unfinished and it feels like a house, not a home. You may not find this depressing, but day in and day out, it is. I've started a running commentary of all my actions to our dog. "I'm just doing the dishes Lupa, oh I'm going to just pop this load into the washing machine in the basement for a minute! I think I'll turn the lights on upstairs Lupa, what do you think?" Just to create noise to fill the space.
We usually spend James' first night at home just enjoying each other's company and playing cards. By lunch time on Saturday we're generally chomping at the bit. If you can't afford a home telephone, you certainly can't afford to go out for the day. So we pack up our things and our dog's things (why should she suffer in silence) and schlepp over to my mum's place for some tv viewing and internet usage. I can see the value in this lesson, but to be perfectly honest, I think there is more to this than entertaining yourself in silence.
How did we become so reliant? Why do we constantly need to have background noise and activity? How did we come about an attitude of entitlement to these luxuries? And why on earth are they viewed as "simpler things" and not luxuries?!? And when you've done without, believe me, they are luxuries. Being able to watch the news, check the weather forecast, pop on a film on a quiet night or communicate easily with family and friends via email. My word! You don't know what you're missing!
Some days I laugh at our materialism and the situation we find ourselves in.
Some days I think its a mercy to have to focus on one another without distraction.
But most days (generally Sunday evening through to Friday afternoon) I grind my teeth, feel sorry for myself and wish it was different.
We will never, EVER, again take these things for granted. Though I can't promise, I sincerely hope that we will never turn to our children and say "you have no idea how lucky you are," before going on a tirade of what it is like to do without. Its so unoriginal!
Thank God for small mercies - a mother with an open door policy, a dog to fill the space and free WiFi at Starbucks.