Today I dried a full load of Charlie's diapers on the clothesline Roy hung in our back "yard" a week or so ago. It was my first time using the clothesline for a sizable amount of clothes.
Our electric bill was a little less than $400 last month. I almost crapped my pants when I saw it. This month, our bill is a little less than $300. It's an improvement, but still way too high. I'm hoping that using the clothesline instead of the dryer whenever possible will help.
Hanging Charlie's diapers was very meditative for me. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself in a reverie of my perfect life, in which I hung our clothes out to dry while standing barefoot in the lush green grass of our huge backyard. The blistering heat snapped me out of it, though.
Then I promptly went inside and said to Roy, "Let's move to Portland."
Roy and I have been discussing possibly buying a house here in Southern California. It's a buyer's market, Roy's entire family is here, and we have a good life here. I've been dragging my feet on researching house buying because I don't want to think about buying a house here. I'm reluctant to enter into that kind of commitment, because let's face it - I want to get the hell out of Dodge.
I want to live somewhere green.
I want to live somewhere where it rains a lot.
I want to live somewhere where there are many different opportunities.
I want to live somewhere diverse.
I want to live somewhere a little calmer.
The area I live in is really lacking when it comes to these things. And I know that no place is perfect, but I have lived here for eight years now and there are some things about this place that I just can't overlook. I hate the smog and the traffic and the general tendency towards entitlement and self-absorption. I really want to settle down in a place that I feel is home.
So Roy and I spent the afternoon making a one-year plan. By June 2010, we'd like to be closer to moving away from here rather than being more settled here. We set a few goals for the year and wrote them on our little whiteboard in our kitchen as a constant reminder of what we want out of life.
My big goals for the year are finishing my thesis (and graduating with my MA) and taking at least one photography class. Roy's goals for the year are taking an exam he needs to move up in his field and taking one Spanish class. Our family goals are to save 10% of our income every month and to use what we already have.
I am the worst offender when it comes to dropping loads of money on things I don't really need. To my credit, I am pretty frugal most of the time, but every once in awhile I get in a space where I just start spending like crazy. I never buy anything full price, and I think that's part of my problem. I think I start to justify buying extra things that are on sale just because they are on sale, not because we really need them. Thus, after a trip to Costco earlier in the summer, I found myself with 20 Chapsticks. (It really did sound like a good idea at the time.)
As a result, we have a lot of surplus things. I can't tell you how many lip glosses, body sprays, body washes, and facial cleansing cloths I have. It's a ridiculous amount. I'm kind of embarrassed at the way I collect things. It's ultimately pretty silly to have so much stuff just for the sake of having options.
I really do want a simpler life. And I know that's what Roy wants, too. So we're going to work on it. We're going to probably do another huge purge of what we already have and focus on keeping what we need. It's all just stuff, anyway. And we don't need to be weighed down here more than we already are.
I am really excited to have a life plan in place, sort of. I know that nothing ever goes the way we'd like it to, but it feels good to have something to work towards. Even though we have a baby and lots of debt, we are still young, and I know we still have some necessary risks we need to take. One of them is moving somewhere we actually want to be.
To think that all of this came from hanging some diapers on a clothesline...