Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stomping Out The Green Eyed Monster

There is an old adage that says "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence."  Is this true?  Do we think that others always have it easier than we do, their opportunities are more numerous, and in general their lives are easier than our own?   Many people are probably arguably correct in looking at other people's lives and thinking they have it easier than they do.  These people can be viewed as the lucky ones- perhaps they drive fancier cars, have bigger houses in better neighborhoods, children who look and act like they should be in a J. Crew catalog, and of course have more money.  But as an outsider are these "luckier" people's lives really easier or are they too entrenched in their own set of problems that their more fortunate circumstances bring about?  Do these people look at others and feel that other people have better, more fulfilling lives than they do?  Having hope and aspirations for a better life are good but do we develop these feelings of envy as a coping mechanism for getting us through our own rough times? 

I know I am lucky and others perceive me as so.  In a time when so many others are in need, my family has a roof over our heads, Glenn and I both have jobs that allow us to lead comfortable lives, and for the most part, we have our health.  Our current circumstances permit us to take long weekends to European cities that most people can only dream of visiting, experience cultural opportunities unknown to many, and call a broad cadre of well travelled internationals our friends.  Yes, we do have it good.  But, I still long for more--or other, different, whatever you want to call it-- opportunities and experiences. 

To an outsider looking in, I'm sure it looks like we have it all.  While we have a big house with two (count them two!) kitchens and full time help, I'd give it up in a heartbeat for a smaller house with a single well-appointed kitchen and reliable electricity.  Deep soaking tubs in the bathrooms are nice but when the rooms are unheated and you have neither the water pressure nor hot water to fill the said tubs, they don't do you a whole lot of good.  A modicum of privacy would be nice too- I can't even remember the last time I was alone in the house.  As a three year old Sidney has visited many of Europe's great cities; he's dined on pizza and roamed through cobblestone city centers throughout Eastern and Central Europe but as he grows older will he have any memory of these experiences? In the long term would a grassy backyard, a safe preschool,  and little friends from the neighborhood be better for his overall development? Glenn's position and work commitments afford us opportunities to attend numerous receptions with foreign dignitaries and diplomats but Sidney and I would rather have him home every evening for dinner.  A little boy is only small once and really needs his father (and despite my numerous attempts, the train set is still not put together!)

I'm sure our grass is greener than many people's but it is really all relative.  Whenever I post about our latest adventures on Facebook I am met with envious responses from friends.  Rome, Prague, Stockholm, and Budapest are nice but at the end of the day I am just as envious, if not more so, than they are.  Just the thought of being able to roam through a Whole Foods or Target, sip a latte in a smoke-free Starbucks, drive to the local soccer field for an organized children's sports game or join in a neighborhood block party makes me green with envy.  Being able to send Sidney out into the backyard to play would be a dream come true for me (our only yard consists of a generator and fuel tank sandwiched between a water tank all laid atop of tile) as would cooking a nice dinner in a warm house for just the three of us without worrying about power surges and blown circuit breakers.  

In all likelihood, this will be my life in a few years.  I'll probably look back on our time here and reminisce fondly about our quirky house, unique opportunities, and the challenges of daily life.  Sidney will probably find our new sterile suburban environment boring; after growing up surrounded by broken concrete, roaming street dogs, and uncontrolled adoration of children that borders on inappropriate by western standards, his new environment of open green spaces, enforced rules, and cookie cutter houses will be oh so ordinary.  That will be OK.  In the meantime I'm pinning my hopes on Glenn's promise of a house in the 'burbs that requires no maintenance work, a quiet suburban life, and a nine-to-five job.  This is the green grass I long for.

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