Monday, May 10, 2010

Ghosts of Payments Past

There's this pit in my stomach that has nothing to do with pregnancy nausea. It feels a little like remorse, and a little like shame, and a lot like kicking myself. I'll tell you why:

You see, there's this Dream House-- a house that, for months, I've been decorating in my mind during sleepless nights; a house that has taken up much conversation between Chris, myself, and some good friends.

It's a 3-story Victorian house, in our neighborhood of which we hope to one day be the proud co-owners. There are a lot of details and small miracles that go into the story of how we came to even dream that we-- the tight-budgeted, always-broke, non-profit workers-- could one day own this house, but I'll save that for another time.

The story I'm thinking of today goes back to about 5 years ago, when I
walked into a U-Haul rental office, couldn't find my ATM card, and rented a truck on an old credit card that I hadn't used for ages. Fast forward 4 years to a collections agency sending me an $800 collection for this silly little rental bill, that somehow never found it's way to our new mailing address. Yuck.

Weeks of terrible phone calls, confusing numbers, and even tears resulted in paying the stupid bill, with a serious ding to my not-exactly-flawless credit score. And that insignificant little number-- that tiny little forgotten detail-- is what is haunting me this afternoon, causing the pit in my stomach & the lump in my throat.

Chris just got home from a meeting with a lender, working out the details of buying our dream house. And, as fate would have it, the one thing holding us back-- 22 little things, to be specific-- is my credit score. Vomit.

No, it's not the end of the world, and no, it doesn't necessarily mean that we can't get the house, but it most likely means (best case scenario) that we will have to wait another month before we can find out. And waiting another month translates to moving in right smack on my due-date. It also means starting off the school year, and welcoming a team of new staff and interns into the busiest season of the work year while moving, painting, cleaning, remodeling, and adjusting to life as new parents (i.e. sleep deprived zombies). If that's not enough to put a pit in your stomach, I don't know what is.

Not only that, but it pokes at a soft, squishy part of me that I would rather keep hidden. It's the
part of me that Chris saved when he married me & took on the financial responsibilities of our lives. Quite the knight in shining armor, when you consider all the forgotten bills, the late payments, and the financial chaos I so often found myself in during my college years. There is something about financial shame that is so... well, shameful. And now, all those skeletons in my closet are dancing around out in the open, affecting not only myself & my wonderful husband, but also our dear friends that we are trying to buy a home with.

I might have spent part of the afternoon in the bathroom crying. It's possible that I made a giant bowl of chocolate pudding, and ate said pudding straight out of the bowl with a serving spoon. I can neither confirm nor deny this story, and feel that I have already done enough confessing for one day.

At the moment, I am working hard to remember Grace-- not the person, but the concept. I am trying to remember that if God wants to provide us with our dream house, He's not going to allow 22 little points on a credit score to keep that from happening. I am trying to remember that my worth & identity is not wrapped up in a number. I am trying not to eat the rest of that chocolate pudding...

Saturday, May 8, 2010


There comes a moment in everyone's life where you cease to be cool. Wait, I think I need to qualify that-- obviously there are some people who were never cool to start off with, and there are some (like James Dean) who die young and are immortalized as cool. Then there's the once in a lifetime types (like Clint Eastwood) who manage to hang on with a death grip to their coolness, even in old age. But for the rest of us, there is this invisible barrier, this tiny thread we cross over one day, somewhere around middle age, where "cool" is no longer an option.

I remember being in high school, pondering an elderly woman. She was stuck, in her fashion,
somewhere between the 60's and the 80's, with polyester pants, the standard old woman helmeted & permed haircut, and those cushy nurse-looking "comfort shoes". As I took her in, I wondered, At what point do you just stop? When does fashion & pop culture and relevancy sort of float out the window, and you just don't care?

Of course, in high sc
hool things like fashion, pop-culture, and relevancy matter very, very much. Everyone knows that Beyonce makes the world go round, and that skinny jeans & Tom's define your worth & identity. But when is that magic day when you realize that you just don't care anymore-- when you get old?

My theory is that most people pick a date and stick with it. For most, that date coincides with the year printed on their high school diploma. Or maybe college. There's this moment where keeping up becomes all too tedious, and those flannels & jeans in the back of your closet just seem so comfy-- and, well, they were cool once, right?

Chris & I recently had a revelation that pointed to the fact that, if we hadn't crossed that line yet, it was coming soon. Although I have never really been "into" music-- I don't have a
n ipod, and have probably owned less than 50 CD's in my lifetime-- he was pretty up on the music scene ever since 5th grade. But the frightening revelation was that, in the past 10 or so years, most of our new music wasn't actually "new", but just recent albums from the same old bands we'd been listening to since our teen years. Then I noticed that our car radio was either set to the news, classic rock, or the "new" 90's rock "flashback" station that Chris recently discovered. Uh-oh. Que the funeral music.

I've also noticed that lately, my cute, punk-rock hubby has taken to wearing running shoes with
his 501's & baggy flannel-- and has been accused by several of our students of being "90's grunge". Oh man, it's begun.

One of the really great things about crossing over that line, though, is the simple fact that you really don't care. As a teenager, the idea of
not worrying what other people thought of you was almost inconceivable, and with that reality came a constant self-consciousness, a slight discomfort in your own skin.

A student was teasing me the other day about trying to pass me off as 19yrs old, to fit into the dorms. But as I thought about it, I realized that I would much rather be 31, having no idea what was playing on the radio, yet at home with myself. I think I like Me better at 31 than I did at 19. Besides, there are few things more tragic than someone who's past their prime, trying to keep up with the young whipper snappers. ;)