25 September, 2008

Finding Perspective in Northern Virginia

I live in Northern Virginia.
One of the first things I did before moving into the area was find an elementary school for my daughter.  I wasn't worried about the secondary schools, just the elementary school.  And, as it happened, the school I chose happened to be near my office.  I happened to find a perfect sized house nearby, and wouldn't you know it, I also found daycare and a serious ballet school.  Most of these things just fell into my lap as things in my life often do. 
I love this area.  My daughter loves her third grade and her school.  The ballet school is tough but then so is the world of ballet.  If she can survive their, the teen age girls in her future will be easy to handle. 
The downfall, in my mind (and it might not be for others), is that I landed in the midst of a lot of money.  When I was looking for my house, I was doing it from Nebraska.  My Northern Virginia experience consisted of a rough knowledge of Alexandria and a love of Old Town.  Anything and everything beyond that point was unfamiliar.  A zip code was just a zip code.   
Now, I have no complaints about money.  Money is something that is required.  I do, however, believe that money doesn't buy happiness.  It might buy status, but status doesn't bring happiness either. 
And with lots of money also comes a focus on what one doesn't have over a gratitude for what one has.  It is this, above and beyond the rest, that bothers me. 
It is the woman who isn't satisfied with her reasonably sized house in her exclusive zip code because there aren't enough bathrooms or a mudroom.  It is the woman who continually shops for things that aren't needed.  The family that has a few dozen televisions plus a family theater... and there are just three in the family.  It is the desire to shop and buy and continually fill your house and your life with things you don't need because you can rather than taking note of the things you have and being grateful. 
And sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the thought pattern. 
I have a small house.  It isn't even a house but a condo.  Every once in a while I note a house for sale - just a small house, and think... that would be nice.  I would really love to have more space.  I would love a garden with the opportunity to foster life from the seeds; to work the ground with my hands.  I would love for the Diva to be able to dance and play and jump without bothering the people downstairs.  
I am no different than the woman who has a nice house for her family of four and yet covets the house down the street because it has more bathrooms and a mudroom... and perhaps a pool.   
It is an area that is changing, to be sure.  There are Smart cars and discussions about saving energy, but Kat's Marin it is not!  Money continues to make the world go round here, the having of stuff is of great importance - big houses with more rooms than 10 people could use, name brands on anything and everything, name dropping, high end cars, and high consumption rates. 
And then there are my neighbors.  Two doctors who escaped, literally, southern Europe in the 90's.  At the time they were both professionals, but each had to obtain their degrees again after entering this country.  Their unit is the size of mine.  They have no desire to move though they have the means to do so.  Where my unit has an adult and a child, they are 3 adults and a child - and a 4th adult when their son is home from college. 
Perspective returns. 
It is not about a lack of space but a quantity of stuff.  I am perfectly content in my house.  sure, the flooring needs some help and the walls need a splash of paint here and there, but I love our little home.  It is perfect for the family we are.  In the end, it is our home; it is where our memories are made, our lives are shared, and where love greets you at the door.   


mama llama said...


Beautiful post, from your NoVA neighbor!

I am blessed with what I have. And yet all around me homes like mine are being ripped out with huge mansions...that AREN'T SELLING...are going up. It makes me sad. THe local flavor of red brick is disappearing...

...or is it that a new flavor is being sought? Has the old flavor become bland?

Be well, TE.

T said...


I lived in a large house that we kept filling... but in the end, the love was gone.

So, my modest home is perfect for my girls and me. We love it and I don't miss the old place. We've donated a TON of stuff and now we live more simply. I like it. Maybe if I'd never had the other, I would still want it but now... I'm content and it feels grand!!!

Money isn't bad but I think its LOVE that makes the world go 'round!

Laura said...

What a awesome post!

I had to move back in with my folks. We do each have our own room but there are 5 of us in the house and some days it gets crazy!

But we love it and I cant imagine it any other way now!!!

Home defintely is where the heart is!

(WP wont let me log in tonight *sigh*)

Aaron said...

A good perspective.

Reminds me of a banner that hangs above the door of Sarah's sister's house, "Love you more."

cathouse teri said...

I love perspective!

Incidentally, we just moved into a new place here in the Hampton Roads area. I think, while I've been at work, my house may very well have become surrounded by water! :)

(No one warned me about this specific danger in regards to moving to the specific area where I live.)

dadshouse said...

Exception - great post! Wow. Love your insights and perspective. You're right, the pursuit of more more more is not healthy, and leads to discontent. Focusing on all the good in your life is best.

That said - I think your reasons for a bigger place are GREAT. You didn't say you want it for more status, or to outdo your neighbor. You gave wonderful reasons - gardening, dancing. I say go for it! Keep those positive thoughts and motivations, and that home will be yours in no time.

Major props to all the grounded people in the world, like you. :-)

justrun said...

I was just thinking about this the other day (also, all the time). I would really like to have a house with "more" than I have now. I dream about a large porch, a pantry, and, my gosh, a laundry chute, and of how great life would be with those things.
But then, I look around, and realize I made this house I have now and it's small, but it's pretty great. And I did it all on my own, and I've made memories here, and I can afford it. Something tells me that stuff makes me feel a lot better than anything else could.

Good post. :)