Until about a month ago, I thought I had learned everything about the things I needed in my life. In Peace Corps, I had learned to live in a smaller space that some people would say was falling apart. The paint was peeling (lead based, we’re guessing … may cause more problems in the future), the front door was bowed, and we had a tentative peace agreement going with the spiders. But, it was mostly clean, very cozy, and it had things like walls and heat. I had also learned to live without a car. This was infinitely easier in a country where most people don’t have cars and the intercity bus systems are pretty efficient. Plus, all that walking helped me lose weight. I had also come to realize that forward progress in terms of technology does not always mean progress in humanity. My phone has an area called “Game.” I thought it was funny when I first saw it, but it’s serious. There’s only one game. But that’s cool because I spend more time looking around instead of at a screen. Essentially, I think certain things make our lives easier but not better.
I was at peace with these ideas, and I had plans to return to the U.S. with these things in mind. I even thought my new low standards would be helpful because I would be returning to either unemployment or graduate school, neither of which meant having nice things like spacious apartments, cars, or iPhones.
Then, the great disintegration of 2012 began. I know it’s not 2012. I’m saying this with the anticipation of this continuing into the year. And let me say this had begun well before December. We might get off the plane naked with the way our clothes have been going.
Anyway, the first thing to go was the computer. It’s dead, but we’re okay with it. We have plenty of internet access at work and that has turned out to be really all the computer time we need. Occasionally, we have little disagreements that would be easily to solve with the internet. Is the past participle of overflow overflowed or overflown? As in: the bucket would have overflowed if I hadn’t emptied it. Although funnier things than being right come out of actually talking about these things instead of looking them up, such as the now infamous “Fly — fly, flied, flown.” We go for walks, write letters, play Scrabble, make ridiculously complicated food that we said we didn’t have time for, stuff like that. Everything we need or even really enjoying doing (writing blog posts, responding to emails, checking web comics, looking at Facebook pictures of my gorgeous nephews and niece) can be done in the space of a lunch hour. I have Skype at work and my work is totally cool if I take some time to talk to people. If we were at home, it would be even better because we would just talk on the phone outside of work. It’s too expensive from Moldova. So, we can add that to the list. Don’t need: nice living quarters, car, cell phones that do more than make phone calls, computer at home.
About a week ago, the refrigerator died. This was not a gigantic loss because we recently realized we have a bad habit of making too much food, saving leftovers, and throwing them out when they turn into UFTs (unidentifiably-filled Tupperwares). Plus, we have found that any perishables we buy at the grocery store have perished by the time we get them the 100 yards from the store to our apartment or at most within a day or two. So, we were eating pretty much vegan unless we bought it that day. Now it’s the same except we put our vegan butter on the balcony because it’s colder than a refrigerator anyway. We will see what happens as it gets warmer. Note: There is a lot less stuff that needs to be refrigerated than you think. We were refrigerating almost all of our ketchup, mustard, etc. needlessly. We went through all the sauces we had in our fridge and found out you can leave them in the cabinet.
Yesterday, we were warned not to turn on our gas until we were specifically told to do so. There is a fart joke here somewhere, but I will let you think of your own. Anyway, this would be okay, except that we have a gas radiator to heat The Shambles (our affectionate name for our apartment). Okay, I’m not going to look on the bright side of this. We have a space heater, but it seems dangerous to have it plugged in while we are sleeping. So this morning it was FREEZING. We also have a gas stove. Last night we ate cereal and toast for dinner. I’ll admit that we need gas. Or at least completely electric cooking and heating appliances.
So, I have learned a lot recently about the things that I need. I need contact with my family. Emails, Skype calls, letters. It doesn’t matter. I just love hearing from them whenever it’s possible. I need to be outside at least part of the day. I love sunlight and I love walks even if it is freezing outside. I need to stay warm and I need to cook food. I need to take care of myself. I need to read and write every day. I need music in my life. I need my wonderful husband!
Anyway, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and you have everything that you need this holiday season. We love you all, and we can’t wait to see you in July.