Believe me when I say, I don’t know if I should brag about my “low maintenance” lifestyle, or if I should pretend my nature demands indulgent splurges on superfluous items and activities, so that I can feel like I belong with the rest of my gender. My baffled looks always give me away when I don’t know the name of a designer purse, have never purchased haute couture clothing, and don’t know the difference between a Milano and a Converse. My entire wardrobe fits into an eight foot-by-four foot closet which I share with my husband. My lingerie bares the labels Fruit of the Loom and Hanes. Every nightgown or pajama set I own fits into one drawer, and I own one pair of blue jeans. I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had my hair cut by a professional. I went from cutting my bangs into a crooked zigzag at the age of four to mastering several different styles by the time I reached thirty. My first and only manicure and pedicure excursion occurred just two summers ago, and I’ve never had a massage or visited a spa. I barely registered jewelry on my radar, so I didn’t bother piercing my ears until seven years ago. When my son decided to pierce his ears, I went along and decided on a whim to discover the whimsical world of earrings. Every Christmas, I ask for a bottle of perfume which I carefully ration to last until the next holiday season. I broke down and joined the world by purchasing a cell phone, which I kept for six years before getting a new one last summer. (I changed carriers, so I had no choice!) The car I drive is currently only twelve-years-old, but I’m renowned for driving the same vehicle for twenty years. I haven’t up-dated the television and sound system in the family room, so they’re eighteen years old. I’ve forgotten the ages of the washer, dryer, refrigerator, and microwave. Our rule for appliances simply states: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Over the years, I’ve had female friends question my assertions that I’m happy, and I admit I went through a rough period in my thirties when I whined about my limited selection of clothing for work. At that time in my life, I fantasized about moving into a bigger house, taking a yearly vacation, and going out to eat whenever and wherever I wanted. When my father died so unexpectedly ten years ago, my perspective changed. I reassessed the things I valued—and discovered I really don’t value things at all. Instead, Time became a hot commodity for me. I treasure the moments spent with my family and friends. I understand the importance of piddling in the garden or strolling through the property. I love to linger over a delightful phrase in a book or craft my own perfect prose or poem. None of these activities require expensive clothing or fancy shoes, yet all of them bring great pleasure to my life.
Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman