I’m proud of who we are. This lifestyle choice…I’m good with it. I don’t care that we’re not in the majority. I’m not even bothered by the name calling anymore. Folks can call us thrifty, frugal, or yes, even cheap, all day long. I’m okay with that. We’re minimalists and we’re alright 🙂
The thing that I’ve found most interesting (or odd) over the years is that it’s much easier to tell a stranger that you’re a minimalist than it is to tell a friend. In fact, coming out as a minimalist to my friends has been harder than coming out lesbian. And most times I get the same crazy look.
A few weeks ago, I reconnected with an old friend from Denver. Alice and I spent many evenings eating burgers and fries from McDonald’s and working them off on the racquetball court during my “lean” years in the Mile High City. Back then, she was on a career path in software development. I was posting items to eBay for a motorcycle shop. She owned her own home in a quaint suburban neighborhood. I rented an apartment off Havana, where my own neighbor stole my bicycle – twice! She drove a nice, newer car. I rode the bus or my scooter. She liked routine. I longed for adventure.
Fast-forward 8 years. Out of the blue I received an email from Alice. She was looking for a job. As luck would have it, I was looking for someone to take over part of my job (the IT part, for which she was more than qualified). We chit-chatted briefly – the usual stuff – How’s the family? What are you up to these days? Are you married? Do you ever hear from the “old gang”?
I was pleased to report that though we weren’t married, I had met the love of my life and we were living our happily ever after in TN (for the time being), that we had traveled extensively over the past few years, and that we were looking forward to more adventures together. As it inevitably does in any conversation about travel, the question of work and money came up.
“What does your girlfriend do for a living? Can she work remotely too?” Alice asked.
I’m not sure why I always struggle with this question. I have no qualms about being a one-income household. I don’t feel we’re falling short of our societal obligations. In fact, just the opposite. I think we’re much more responsible with our money and use of resources than someone living the so-called American dream. We’re minimalists and we try not to waste either. I think it’s that look (or tone) of pity that often comes right after I answer the work question. Rather than being in awe of the fact that we live within our means, do everything we want to do and then some, and still manage to save like a mad person, folks seem to jump to the immediate conclusion that something is wrong when only one person in a couple has a job.
(If it’s this way now, I can only imagine what it will be like when the day comes that I can say NEITHER one of us works; that we’re both retired…and we’re still in our forties!)
The truth – by living with less, we’re able to do more. If you’re reading this blog, you understand that statement. I don’t need to explain. But with my friends (whether they’re the folks I grew up with, my coworkers, or long-lost pals like Alice), it’s a different story. I’ve often suspected that once their mind settles around what I’ve said, they simply think I’m going through a phase, that someday I’ll wake up and be more “normal” – perhaps even buy a new car or get a mortgage. Okay, maybe not, but still…I know they struggle to understand this choice to live a minimalist lifestyle. In their world, everyone works. Travel is for the wealthy. And you buy things. Doing anything different, makes you weird.
Good thing we like being weird.
So what did I tell Alice? The truth.
I’m sure she’ll have more questions. She’s very inquisitive. I hope that when she does, I do such a great job sharing the happiness that being minimalist has brought to our lives that she jumps on the bandwagon herself. Or at the very least, she understands that there are many different versions of the right way to live.