We think we are normal, as most people do. We lead a fairly conventional lifestyle for urban Americans. Some may argue that we are outside “mainstream” America just by living in Portland. Because we are so weeeird up here. But it’s as easy to lead a totally normal, conventional life here in Portland as any other mid-sized American city. You don’t HAVE to manage a compost pile on your balcony, or grow a big fluffy beard, or wear plaid, or drink IPAs so bitter they make your hair curl. You don’t have to do any of that. But it is recommended. Otherwise, the hipster police will roll their eyes at you HARD.
We think we are normal, but we are aware of the glaring indicators that we are not. First of all, we don’t have a TV. That makes us hippie moonbats right there. It cuts out a whole dimension of small talk and casual connections with people. I can’t tell you how many conversations have begun with “Oh! Did you see Glee last night? Oh, never mind.” Which sounds a lot like, “Oh never mind, I forgot you have the plague.”
I remember when I was a kid, there was a family down the street and they didn’t have a TV. I thought they were hippie moonbats. I mean, what is there to “do” without a TV? What kind of wholesome bullcrap was that family trying to pull? Did they read books? Were they intellectuals? I grew up in a small town. Having intellectuals down the street scared the bejesus out of me.
So now we are that type of odd family, without a TV, and clearly pop culture deficient. But we do sit on the couch probably as much any typical Americans, because we dink around on the internet. So we don’t have that aloof wholesome bullcrap going on. Thank god.
Second indicator that we are rather bizarre is that we live in a pretty small apartment. This helps us save money. In order to live in a small space, we are getting rid of a lot of stuff. When we first started living together, we combined households and we did a little nesting together. Now about two years later, we are getting rid of much of the stuff we acquired.
I recognize this is the opposite direction most newlyweds go. But less stuff = smaller space = less expense on housing. Less expense = I got to quit my job. It’s not a bad trade off.
I get looks of puzzlement when I say we reduced our cost of living so we can reduce our income. It’s unfathomable. I get outright objections. Isn’t that the whole point? To make more money? For stuff? And security? And stuff? Isn’t the world a scary place? Shouldn’t you just hang on and not let go?
People sometimes get a little ragey if you stray outside the norm, or if they catch a whiff of self righteousness. They can see it from a long way off. Getting rid of stuff, living in smaller spaces, reducing income all seem like huge sacrifices. And that’s where folks get judgy. Because when they see something as “sacrificing,” it must mean we are holier-than-thou self righteous dickwads.
But what if it’s not a sacrifice? What if it’s just quietly going our way? These are just choices we make, we know they aren’t for everyone. People have kids. People have houses. People have obligations, and people work hard for the sake of others. These are valid choices. They don’t make someone else’s choices less valid, however. Just different.
I know we are the odd ones, but I still feel pretty normal and conventional. I know we aren’t hippie moonbats yet, because I still smell okay. I think.