I love the writing of the late Nora Ephron. Her writing style is clean and crisp, not forced and flowery. I especially love her personal essays. They are honest, funny, perceptive, and often profound. I can read them over and over again and still take away something new each time. I love that, too.
The quote below is from an essay she wrote called Moving On. In the essay she talks about falling in love with an apartment and the many rationalizations that she uses, not only to justify the cost of getting into the apartment, but for staying for a decade despite poor conditions and numerous rent hikes.
Finally, once her rent is raised by 400%, she instantly falls out of love, and finds a new place that feels like home just as fast. These two sentences sum up so much of my life, both in terms of relationships, and many other things, as well.
I was raised to be strong. My mother was a strong woman who had endured much and she tried to form me into her own image. “You’re stronger than that,” she would say when I was having a tough time and it was showing. Stronger than what, I now wonder? Was I to be stronger than a team of oxen? Stronger than what, exactly, is still my question.
But I am a good learner, and life provided many powerful experiences, so I got stronger and stronger. I could, and would, endure almost anything. It was a point of pride. I was persistent. I persevered, no matter what the circumstances might be. I endured and I tolerated like few can and I rarely complained about it. Again we go with the pride thing, as you can easily see. Of course, all of this enduring and persevering and sticking it out and being strong almost killed me, but that was beside the point, wasn’t it?
When I left my last marriage, I swore that I would never allow myself to be in a relationship that was so unhealthy that I had slipped into a place of tolerance that is beyond all reason. I would never tolerate such conditions and treatment again. I would be grateful and happy and free, even if I was never in a relationship ever again. For the most part, that has been true for going on four years now.
But then I had to go to prison. Going in, I was determined that I was going to do prison like a champ and come out better for it. Guess what? I did prison like a champ and I came out far better for it. Coming out of prison, I was determined to thrive and succeed and be completely open and honest about my past while continuing to move forward.
Within five days of my release from prison, I had found a little cottage in the woods to rent, and my little boy and I were soon moved in, and I was working, and parenting, and making it through a nasty divorced, and smiling all of the while. Every day was like a gift. I danced in the living room every night. I was in love, or so I thought.
I didn’t mind having to use a sled to haul groceries and laundry down the luge run of a road. I overlooked all of the many ways that my landlords deceived me. I tolerated the hot water heater that allowed for a three-minute shower, and when the entire place molded last summer, I did my best to clean it up, and move on, despite my mold allergy. I rationalized, I tolerated, and I endured. I was a trooper, because I do “trooper” well. In short, I fell back into old habits.
Fall of last year came, and I renewed my lease when my hopes of a better place fell through. By the time winter hit, the bloom was long off of the rose. The long promised new hot water heater never arrived. It was impossible to remove the entirety of the mold in that place. The road was poorly maintained, and I still did not have a blessed smoke detector after asking for one over four times.
My friends and family were constantly encouraging me to break my lease—that I was within my rights to do so, but I kept on enduring, mostly because I had no idea where the money for a new place would come from. My car had also broken down again, and my little boy was in the middle of a school year.
At the same time, though, I began to finally assert myself with my landlord. That did not go over well, and soon I found that I was being evicted. I knew it was wrongful, and that I could fight it, but after I finally wrapped my head around the whole mess, which took a couple of weeks, I finally saw it for what it was—a rescue from God.
My tenacity and desire to persevere is so danged strong that God often has to give me the old 2×4 upside the head treatment to get me to let go of something, or someone, that he wants me nowhere near. And so this buttercup bucked up, started a fundraiser online, and had first, last, and security deposit for a place provided in no time.
We are now living in a home right where I had been praying for years to be, on our lake, once again renting from good and honest landlords from the past. After a year and a half in a cottage so dark that it was debilitating, we are enjoying light every day, and space to move around, a huge yard, lovely gardens, and the ability to stick our feet in the water and dig our toes into the sand anytime we like.
Our constant congestion, coughing, and for me, asthma, is gone now that we are away from that bloody mold. We no longer sound like a couple of chronic lungers. That place was killing us. We are happy, filled with joy and gratitude, and truly free. My little depression has lifted.
Life has left me with a highly developed ability to make lemonade, but I simply do not tolerate citrus. It gives me terrible reflux. I am done making lemonade just because I can do it especially well. Yes, I will stay positive, and I will remain resilient, and I will look for the good, and live in gratitude of God’s grace.
However, I refuse to endure anything less than what God has finally shown me that I deserve. I deserve all good things, including love, and I am now finally strong enough to be vulnerable enough to ask for help, let down the walls, and allow myself to be loved, by God, and by all of the beautiful people who surround me. I am finally open enough to allow myself to be deserving of goodness, not simply enduring. What a blessing!
To end this, having not written in so very long, I would like to thank all of the people who have nominated me for various awards, including the Very Versatile Blog Award, and The Shine On Award, a couple of time for each! Thank you so much!