A few months after moving to the suburbs, I started to look at my house differently. The novelty of having all that extra space had worn off, and my four-bedroom house began to look small compared to the Tudor and Colonial mansions I'd been in for playgroups. Our perfectly functional 1970s bathrooms became completely hideous in my eyes. I cut out images of dream bathrooms out of magazines and kept notes of style details from hotel and friends' bathrooms. I dreamed of ripping out the ceiling of our family room to build a bathing retreat with wainscotting walls, heated floor tiles, and a clawfoot tub. I had been here for less than a year when I took up my new hobby: coveting. I coveted my friends' gleaming marble remodeled bathrooms and their gorgeous country kitchens. Fortunately, I just coveted quietly and didn't talk my husband into taking out home equity loans to build my vision.
Our economic system is now in crisis. The stockmarkets are in a free fall, diving lower every weekday as the panic grows. The trickle down effects are just beginning to be seen around here. The Chrysler dealership on Oak Street has just closed its doors, leaving yet another vacant storefront in town. Every week there are more unshaven dads at preschool pick-up. My pharmacist has had to to postpone his retirement. Some neighborhood kids just had their college options limited to New Jersey schools. But the economic crisis has not had a negative effect on me so far. As a matter of fact, it's actually helped me.
For the first time since I moved to the 'burbs, I've stopped being envious of everyone around me, and started appreciating what I have. My husband has a secure job outside of the banking industry. Once again I'm looking at my house with different eyes. Instead of focusing on its flaws, I am celebrating how comfortable it is. I consider myself extremely lucky that we can afford to heat it and fill it with food so our kids have all they need.Continued on the next page