Halfway through our move to California, I realized that having the ability to turn my daughters to gold was even better than I thought it would be because a golden statue can not whine.
Actually, what I realized halfway through (and by halfway I mean when I had unpacked ninety-four percent of our stuff but my emotions were all still in the Penske, which was awkward because we returned it four weeks ago) was:
I got Tom fired. Er, laid off. It was my fault.
For years I’ve gone through a worst-case-scenario visual-vocalization thing when stressed. This stemmed from a difficulty falling asleep as a child because I wasn’t sure I’d finished that last page of homework perfectly. I had an ocean-waves tape and a mental exercise to remind myself that even if I failed in chemistry, the sun really would go on rising and setting (even if sometimes I/Anne wished it wouldn’t).
Then I read in a waiting room magazine that the act of lying in bed was almost as restful as actually sleeping, and that (true or not), has been my mantra to cling to no matter how often Tom looked over me and teased, “are you getting almost as much rest as sleeping?”
Once I believed that, (and I do believe it, though two pink benadryls are my backup), I moved on to a different, utterly soothing panacea in which I’d construct my three wishes. The idea was to let go of worries and responsibilities in order to sleep, so I gave myself leave to be as self-centered and silly as possible, but it was also to occupy my mind, so there had to be some sort of theme and they couldn’t be obvious things like world peace or mass conversion to reusable grocery sacks.
Usually my first wish was money. I mean, come on. Then weight loss and hair growth. I’d get pretty elaborate. Like, I wish I’d lose one pound a day every day for two months no matter what I ate and it had to be all fat cells, and not any from my bosom (when I was still nursing) and proportionally from my middle section mostly and out towards my limbs and I would never gain it back no matter what (i.e. even if I did strength training later in life that would be converting more fat to muscle, not gaining muscle).
And usually for symmetry I’d want the money and weight loss and hair growth to each contain the same number: multiples of 5 in millions of dollars, tens of pounds and inches of hair, for example. And on the money, I had a big number that would be all I would need for my humble requirements to live well the rest of my life, several intermediate numbers of diminishing lifestyle I’d like to become accustomed to, on down to the minimum amount that would allow us to pay off most of our debt and maybe travel a little and have some savings instead of trying to recover eternally from bad house-buying decisions.
That minimum amount that I came to stayed pretty constant over the past couple of years.
Then six weeks ago, Tom was laid off, and the amount of severance he was offered was very, very, very close to that minimum amount of money. Before the IRS took their 38% of course, so maybe I don’t need to draw such a strong moral of the story from this. On the other hand, King Midas, gold daughter, fair enough. Back on the first hand though, this bounty came with the unexpected huge cost of moving instead of fantasy cruises to look forward to, so.
The good news is, of course, that (knock on wood, fondle the rabbit’s foot, etc), 1) Tom found new work, 2) getting rid of most of our stuff has been as liberating as it is cliched, and 3) the kids are doing well in our new milieu.
So I can’t decide whether I should keep wishing, or stop while I’m ahead.