Rich Friends and Envy

My friend has just bought my dream house in Sedgefield. Light, airy, bleached wooden floors worn with decades of beach holidays, spectacular 180 views of the lagoon and Indian Ocean. . . You can sit on the deck every morning with your coffee and watch the tide come in or go out.

If anyone deserves this, it’s my uber-stylish and very lovable friend and her husband. The 16 hour workdays, the six day weeks, the many months apart on business trips – she spent what probably amounts to years raising their kids alone. They’ve paid their proverbial dues, but there’s no question that owning this house is a big pay-off.

The lifestyle Gavin and I have chosen means a house like this one is not in our future – we’ve owned great houses, but only for the short time it’s taken for us to renovate and sell them. Choosing to opt out of the big pay, big bonus life means a small life in some ways. Small in the sense that pleasures are small,and preferably cheap or free! No great clothes, cool cars or really good colourists. With my first gray strands showing this is not as shallow as it might seem (ok, it is).

I love my simple life in Sedgefield, and most days, wouldn’t change it for anything. But, a close up view of just what money can buy makes it clear that the choices we make are not without consequences.

4 Responses to “Rich Friends and Envy”

  1. 1 May 9, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Last nigh on Dubai One TV I watched “The Family Man” (2000) starring Nicolas Cage – Have you seen it? The moral of this touching film is living a quiet family life is preferable to achieving success and wealth at work. Certainly made me think.
    Yip, all true. But sometimes when you see a beach house like this one. . .

  2. 2 serendipity hopeful May 10, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    We made our choices based on our own values, what you see may not be what it is made out to be. Seek happiness, this , of course, is again different things to different people.
    Exactly. And what a great name you have chosen, sums up the perfect attitude to life, really.

  3. 3 shoreacres May 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    One of the unexpected side effects of blogging has been getting little glimpses into the lives of people who made quite different decisions about how to live their lives. More than once I’ve had to give myself the “decisions have consequences” lecture, and think hard and long about decisions I’ve made.

    Most of the time I’m quite happy, but every now and then the differences hit me hard, as they did when I bumped into a photo of an online friend’s home. Here, in full, is the text of the email I sent her just yesterday:

    Jealous. More Jealous. Jealous as can be.
    Did I mention I’m jealous?
    That’s sort of like jealous.
    Ok, throw in envious, too.
    I’m grinning, of course.
    But I am jealous.

    We did laugh back and forth, but my own emotions certainly got me thinking.When I hit one of these patches, I always remember something my grandmother said as often as she thought we needed to hear it: “What counts is what you do with what you have.” Now and then I envy others’ homes, cars, travel and freedom, but I’m doing all right with what I have.

    Yip, I can live easily without the cars and clothes, but I do have a weakness for beautiful houses. Funny thing is, all the really great houses here are occupied for two weeks of the year, their owners working elsewhere to pay for them.

    • 4 Lisa May 13, 2009 at 8:52 am

      Beach house fantasies aside, there’s a lot to be said for feeling at home. I live in my parents’ mansion overlooking the sea on the Atlantic Seaboard. The lap of luxury, yet it’s never been my kind of home and probably never will be – bit too much marble and glass, and I have to spend a lot of time and energy making sure my baby doesn’t destroy the precious electronics.

      They’ve been here 30 years but no one in this area knows their neighbours – most of whom spend half the year in Europe anyway, and leave their homes in the care of well-paid staff (nice work if you can get it).

      I could afford my dream cottage with a sprawling veggie garden near the sea in, say, Gordon’s Bay or Muizenberg, but it would mean sacrificing my child’s close relationship with his grandparents, and all their help and support. These choices are not great hardships, of course, but what always gets me envious is a feeling of homeliness, of at-home-ness, which I find consistently difficult to cultivate here despite the trappings of luxury.

      Funny old world isn’t it? Grandparents are pure joy (mostly). And I know it works both ways, my mom lives a few minutes away and is a second mother to my boys – a boon for me but she says it’s the best thing in her life. She’s in her 70s and walks, cycles, swims and gardens daily, something she attributes to constantly having the kids around. There’s something to it – too many people in their 70s move into retirement villages and hang out only with older people which skews your view of the world. I’m sure your folks love having your little man around, and it only gets better.

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