“Those are nicer cabinets than the ones I’m putting in my kitchen”.
Dan was half of a two-man crew from Habitat for Humanity, stopping by to pick up the oak cabinets i’d just had removed from my kitchen, in preparation for a massive remodeling job.
“i just want them to find a good home…”
Since i moved to the new place in 2008, i’ve been tackling one project each year. Billiards room, home theater/audio system were top of the list, but the office renovation, theatre room upgrade and fitness center remodel are all completed according to plan. i’d put off re-doing the kitchen because it would be more expansive – and expensive.
Initial plans were more modest, but once i realized that Mom and Dad’s final gift would be more than expected, i decided to go balls out – and make it a dream kitchen. Serious design work started in January with a professional, and i pulled the chain in March when i placed the order for cabinets.
And then the guilt started to work on me… My kitchen was perfectly serviceable. Why remove the walls? i’m not a serious cook – do i really need to upgrade to a gas cooktop and double oven?
My facebook-based flea market began in earnest – i gave away two perfectly good tables, a working refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. Donating the cabinets to Habitat for Humanity to make sure someone, somewhere could use them.
Realizing the magnitude of the job, schedule became a challenge.
“i’m going on a two-week European holiday at the beginning of June – can we have the work done by then?”
Did i say those words to my contractor? Yes. Yes i did…
In order to accomplish a 6 week project in 4 weeks, i took on a few parts of the job myself. Professionally trained as a program manager – Cost, Schedule, Performance – this is what i do for a living. i worked with the contractor (and subcontractors) to run things in parallel where possible.
So i’m the luckiest… The absolute fucking luckiest human on earth right now.
Sure, i’ve worked to earn a paycheck from the day i turned 16. Something in my wiring diagram does not allow me to go without my own paycheck – even when starting university, i was in a co-operative education program at 19, picking up a job as a secretary in the engineering office during the semesters i wasn’t working full time.
i made the choice to go to graduate school at night, while working full time and breeding. Those years are a bit of a blur, but i did it. So did my spouse. My husband and i made the choice to live on one income, and invest the other. We lived well under our budget, and prepared to send the two spawn off to university should they choose to go.
Why do i feel guilty? Where does the voice come from inside my head that says “You’re being selfish? You don’t deserve this!”
Is it enough that i know i’m lucky to have found myself here? That i’m lucky enough to have had parents who squirreled away something for their children? That i haven’t been bankrupted by a major medical disaster, or lost my job through downsizing, or random events beyond my control?
As i write this, i’m sitting First Class, given a complimentary upgrade on a flight to Florida for my sister’s wedding. Drinking free booze, and munching on tasty kibbles handed out by a smiling flight attendant. Unlike the guy that Exile on Pain Street wrote about earlier this week, you won’t catch me bitching about the lack of single malt scotch. i’m pretty happy with my Jack Daniels and Diet Coke.