Several years ago, a friend came to visit. Stepping into the kitchen, he noticed the recently washed dishes drying on a tea towel spread neatly on the counter top.
He declared, “You don’t have a dish rack!”
I replied, “What for? I don’t need one. Besides, they’re too expensive.”
Shaking his head, he said, “My dear. (tsk, tsk) You live like a Gypsy.”
Offended and red-faced, I said in my mind, “What does he know anyway?”
It was true, he lived in his own comfortable home. I rented an apartment I couldn’t afford. He had designer dinnerware. I had mix and match hand me downs from various sources. He had a dish rack. I had a tea towel.
Many years have passed since Mr. You-Live-Like-A-Gypsy graced my life, but that phrase haunted me. Could he be right? Am I, a Gypsy? What an awful thing to say to someone. I pictured a Gypsy as someone with no roots. Someone travelling from place to place with few possessions. Someone poor. Someone unsuccessful. Surely, that can’t be me. (Sniff. Sniff.)
Once upon a time, before Mr. Y-L-L-A-G, I lived in a mansion. Yep, it had five bathrooms, four master bedrooms, a pool, a hot tub, a sauna and a sun-room with skylights, not to mention the usual living/dining rooms, room off the living room and full-sized recreation room. I lived there for a whole three months before I believed my intuition that Mr. Right was actually Mr. Wrong in disguise. A quick exit ensued. Good-bye mansion. Hello independent poverty.
Sometimes staying true to ones convictions presents challenges, especially when one learns the hard way. The next twelve years brought; diagnosis of a severe autoimmune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis, working-poor status, continued struggle and suffering, disability and despair. I truly wasn’t sure that I wanted to live, but I didn’t know how to-get-out-of-it.
For the last 1-1/2 years I’ve lived on a small government disability pension that allows me to earn self-employment income that is deducted from the cheque at the rate of fifty percent. Usually, my car never has more than 1/4 tank of gas in it. I’ve seen me get through a week on $12.56. I usually have enough food in my cupboard to last a few days or so. I never go shopping for clothes and I’m always a few months behind in paying my bills. I can’t wear winter boots and I have to wear orthopedic shoes due to the RA disease, I can’t bend my feet to get them into regular footwear. I have numerous other joints that are painful and won’t work properly either. Somedays, I could hardly walk at all. I’ve applied for subsidized housing. I’m on a waiting list.
I am very happy to tell you that the past 1-1/2 years have been the best years of my life. Through the power of intention, the incredible people I’ve met and the totally different perspective I’ve developed, I want to live now. I have peace about my condition and circumstance. I’ve developed an appreciation for myself, for life and for others. Life is no longer perceived as a struggle.
I have no roots. I have few possessions. I am poor. From the world’s perspective, I am unsuccessful. But, I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for my wonderful mentors. I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity of challenge. I am grateful for the beautiful friends in my life (blogging and non-blogging). I am grateful to experience Life. I am grateful that from my perspective, I am successful. I am happy to be alive.
So….Mr. Y-L-L-A-G, all I have to say now is, it’s a wonderful Gypsy life.
Copyright, Marianne Irvine and Grandeurvision, 2010.