photo by tourist on earth
Guest Post by Jennifer Duenes from Life From the Roof
I distinctly remember a moment when I was working as a teacher in a poor region of Uzbekistan. I had received an email from a friend asking me if there was
anything I needed.
I sat there for a minute, racking my brains. Surely I needed something.
My wardrobe consisted of a mere few skirts,
tops, and dresses. I only had a shelf of books to my name. My living
room was sparsely decorated in Central Asian style: a low-lying coffee
table with floor cushions scattered around, a small television in the
corner of the room, and a buffet-style cabinet that housed extra goods.I truly couldn’t think of anything I needed.
Today, I constantly going around with a mental list in my mind that
is ever-growing. Hmmm… I think to myself, with all of those great
picture printing deals I am getting, it would sure be nice to get some
quality frames to put them up in.
The duvet cover I have is extremely
soft and in great condition, but I am bored with it, and feel like it’s
been "ages" since I had a new one. In my mind I think of how much more
efficient I would be at life in general and especially blogging if I
had a nice over-stuffed Manhattan leather chair to sit in.
And then there are the sales. "50% off! No, 75% off!" they
decree. "Hurry in, before this deal is gone forever and you are
sitting in your pitifully undecorated, unorganized home one day wishing
you had taken advantage of this deal!"
A sense of anxiety begins to
pervade my heart as I hear of the deals springing up right and left. A
sense of impatience fills my spirit as my trusty little digital camera
is gasping its last breaths after 6 years of usage, and I have to
recharge it more often than normal.
A sense of embarrassment settles on
me subtly as I have worked for wealthier families as a nanny, and drive
my Honda 92 Accord with its bumper cracked and patched up with duct
tape and park it behind their brand-new Sienna with rear-view camera
and DVD player options.
Sometimes people ask me if life was harder in Uzbekistan. In some
ways, it was. Having to heat a bucket of water on the meager gas flame
on your stove to take a bucket bath in an ice-cold bathroom wasn’t
fun. Nor was it when you constantly felt that, as one of the few
Americans living there, people were always asking you for favors, and
you never knew who really just wanted to be your friend.
But in other ways, it was so much easier because of the simplicity
of life there. There wasn’t a Sunday paper that came laden with ads
urging you to get to their stores as soon as possible. There were
people with the "latest" fashions walking around, but because many of
our friends were poor and had very little, it felt like a slap in their
faces to always be buying something new.
It was an inconvenience to
not have things like Starbucks or fast-food places, but after a while,
you settled into a slower pace of life where you drank your tea and
Nescafe pseudo-coffee at home and in contentment with other friends
bearing the same hardships you did.
The "rest of the world" that we often refer to who doesn’t live in
the excesses we do was a reality for me for five years. They were
friends, second families, and I am forever grateful to an experience that simultaneously purged from me my need for the newest thing,
and enriched me with what could truly nourish: camaraderie, mutual
suffering, and sacrificial love.
mother to one-year old Elijah. She lives in the San Francisco Bay
Area, and despite living on one income with the high costs of living
associated with that area, she enjoys finding creative ways to save
money and thrive. She attributes part of her ability to save and
appreciate the important things in life to her experiences as a teacher
in a poor region of Uzbekistan for five years before getting married. For more on her insights from life in Uzbekistan and tips on making the
most of your resources in high-cost urban areas, check out her blog at www.lifefromtheroof.wordpress.