One of my guilty pleasure movies is Under the Tuscan Sun.
Have you seen it? Diane Lane takes a trip to Italy to get over a nasty divorce and ends up buying a house in Tuscany. She heals her wounds by renovating the house and building friendships in the small town.
It’s a great little movie and it will make you want to grill up zucchini and serve antipasta platters. Or set you day dreaming about living in a farmhouse in the south of France.
One of my favorite scenes is when our protagonist is lamenting that she doesn’t have what she’d hoped for: a baby and a wedding in the garden. Her friend points out to her that she has both: her friend and her baby are staying with her and she just hosted the wedding of a young couple at her home.
Sometimes what we wish for comes to us in a different package than we expect.
Three years ago I often day dreamed about a windfall that would get us out of consumer debt. I kept a lottery ticket in my purse for a few months, never checking if it was a winner, and on bad days I would tell myself it was the one.
That’s how I imagined we would get out of $82,000 in consumer and student loan debt. A windfall.
I never imagined that we would work for it. That we would sell a lot of things, my Olympic Torch, our car and that we would cut bills and I would stop spending $100 at the drugstore when all I went in for was my husband’s shampoo.
I never imagined that my husband and I would track all of our spending. Every penny. Every pence.
Living overseas was always a dream of mine. Several of my siblings have lived abroad and my parents emigrated to Canada from Scotland in their 20’s. I loved the idea of a stint overseas for Chris and I and Henry.
We even toyed with the idea of renting our home out for a few months while I was on maternity leave and living in Spain or France. Unfortunately the timing and the numbers just didn’t add up. I shelved that dream thinking it would be something for retirement.
Since my teen years I’ve wanted to be a writer. It seemed impossible. It was a fantasy and the fantasy was selling a screenplay or scoring a big publishing contract. The dream got farther and farther away. I was happily working in a marketing and sponsorship role before I went on maternity leave. I thought I had found my calling in the corporate world. That was it. I’d run events, write copy and manage employee engagement projects. Not my dream job but a pretty good one.
Moving to the Isle of Man wasn’t on my radar. My husband getting a corporate job and taking an indefinite hiatus from road life with his band wasn’t something either of us could have imagined.
But here we are. Living in Europe. We’re going to Spain soon. Not as we’d once a imagined but for a quick and relatively cheap holiday (thank you airline points and piggy backing on a work trip).
Some days I feel like we won the lottery. I shake my head and say to my husband, are we really here? Did we really pay off all that debt?
Yes, we’re here in a different way than I imagined. There wasn’t an easy way out of debt and we’re not basking in the Spanish sun every day with our departure back to rainy Vancouver looming over us. I’m not making a six figure salary from writing or on the top ten bestseller list. But I’m earning a small income from self-publishing, freelance writing and this blog.
It’s not how I imagined it: it’s better. Because it’s real.