Diminishing Returns

oldhouse

The inspector tells me the basement doesn’t have returns, so I should have the A/C people put some in so it’s not a meat locker filled with moisture.

The house itself needs work. Too much work. We are racing against time with a structure built in 1938. The garage is a complete demo and rebuild. The porch is not structurally sound. The electricity was done incorrectly. There’s a gas leak.

But it’s an INVESTMENT for our FUTURE. A future that won’t include much in the way of social security, so actually perhaps this will be the house we die in. The doorways will need widening, the bath turned into a walk-in shower, someone will need to be hired to clean the upper and lower floors. I envision a Grey Gardens-esque backyard.

We look at a place that on paper is 500 square feet. It’s the “gardener’s house”, which sits on the MASTER’s property and has no less than four additions. It has The Most Beautiful front lawn I’ve ever seen, meticulously kept by its owner, an older woman who sighs that it’s too much. I don’t know how this house will sell since it’s not up to code. This will be her final resting place.

***

“Call me.” That’s my dad after looking over my 401K statement and seeing that all of my money is sitting in a money market account earning exactly .01%.

Did I know this?

“No.”

He tells me I can be more aggressive since I’m nowhere near retirement. But I know starting this late on a 401k is mostly a lost cause.

***

My partner points out that maybe now IS the time to buy because we’re in our 40’s with just enough time to work and pay off the mortgage. We really can’t wait much longer.

I picture myself older, tired, worn down, but still working. Still paying the mortgage. Still doing what I can to keep the lights on.

I think about all of the people nearing 70 behind the counter at Culver’s, wiping down the tables at Portillos, making pleasant conversation with me at the cash register wearing a pin that says they’ve been working at Jewel-Osco for over twenty five years.

I’m so moved by their simple kindness to me and my son that I call the store and ask to speak to the manager so I can let her know about my experience. She thanks me and says I should complete the survey that was on my receipt because that’s the only way corporate will accept these compliments.

I write Chuck E Cheese an email to tell them Donna at the Fullerton location is the nicest lady ever in the hopes they’ll pay her $20 more an hour knowing at best she’ll end up on some Employee of the Month placard.

***

While I don’t want another kid my body probably wouldn’t stand for it anyway.

I don’t burn as many calories. I’m losing muscle. Everything is turning into mush.

It’s mammogram year. It’s perimenopause year. It’s the Year of Ma’am.

If I were on a dating site, I probably wouldn’t be matched nearly as much as I was in my 30’s, as 39 is typically the highest age in a range set by men of all ages.

I’m Over Some Sort Of Hill That I Can’t Roll Back Up.

***

I help run a free six week financial coaching program at work. One of our clients is struggling to a point I can barely comprehend.

Her coach said it’s a “house of cards” and I couldn’t have described it any better.

I’m trying to help people save or increase their credit score or create a budget and this person is just trying to make it to the end of the month with money in their pocket.

This is neither unique or uncommon, only utterly heartbreaking and maddening.

A tweet says overdraft fees are just a way to punish people who don’t have money and the absurdity of that true statement makes my stomach hurt.

***

I am done contributing.

I put another human on Earth.

I pay my taxes.

I am minimally contributing to society.

What is my worth now?

I guess just the slow crawl to self acceptance. If I’m lucky.

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