On Taking “Experiences, Not Things” To Its Logical Conclusion
A Friday chat about stories of excess
ESTER: The world is on fire and the smoke alarm is shrieking and no one knows how to turn it off! I mean, hi, how are you.
NICOLE: I am reading the news. That is how I am. When I run out of news then I am reading blogs and op-eds. And then when I run out of that I am reading Tweets.
This whole week it’s been so difficult to get things done because the world is getting things done in front of us and I am compelled to watch.
How are you?
ESTER: Much the same! I woke up at 5:30 this morning to nurse, checked Twitter, and then I couldn’t get back to sleep. Too many gifs of Dumpster fires flaming away in my timeline. Too many terrifying Hot Takes in the NYT. Too many people warning that Armageddon is only weeks away, and that if #Brexit can happen there, Trump can happen here. On the plus side, I heard Bernie is finally going to endorse Hillary. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe he was reading the same thinkpieces I was.
NICOLE: It’s not like he’s going to take the other option. But I think that what we’ve learned from the past 24 hours — one of the things we’ve learned — is VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE.
ESTER: Seriously. Take nothing for granted. I’ve also been mesmerized by this Toronto Life hateread by this guy who lives like a secondary character on “Entourage” and brags about it:
I’m 31, single, and I live with my parents in a two-storey home in North York. I still sleep in my childhood bedroom, beneath my Mario Lemieux poster and framed picture of Jesus. My mom does my laundry and makes my meals. And, yes, I can already feel your contempt. But hear me out.
NICOLE: I heard him out and I still don’t agree with him. I mean, I do agree that homeownership is difficult and real estate prices are out of control. But I don’t agree that the other option is to live in your childhood bedroom and travel whenever you want and spend all of your cash on wine and restaurants. I mean… of course that option is valid, everybody’s choices are valid. And I guess his mom doesn’t mind it? When he thinks about buying a house she’s all, “I envisioned you living somewhere better?”
ESTER: YES. He says she thinks he deserves a mansion. He also says:
I thought about what I’d have to sacrifice. Even if I didn’t want to travel like I do — even if I just wanted to go for a fancy dinner or on a date and not worry about the expense — I wouldn’t be able to do that anymore. I’d have to say no a lot more often and, frankly, I like saying yes.
Which reminds me of the piece we just ran:
NICOLE: But he isn’t quite in James A.’s situation. He says himself it would be going from buying a $200 wine bottle to an $80 wine bottle. That’s what his biggest sacrifice would be if he moved into a $1,500/month apartment.
ESTER: We need to hook this dude up with that woman who claimed that, if you have savings in your 20s, you’re doing it wrong.
Anyway, I do think the article functions as an example of what could happen if you took the experiences, not things idea to its natural, if extreme, conclusion. As it happens, that concept was also mocked today by the Hairpin.
NICOLE: I loved that piece. At first I thought it was going to take its subject seriously, because there are times when spending money can be life-changing. (Says the person who is no longer wiping up her bathroom floor every day because she got a bathmat that doesn’t leak.) And then I was all, “no, this is even better.”
There is something to say for the idea of, as Mary Laura Philpott puts it: “Take time each day to meditate on the joy the boots brought you the day before.” Because with some possessions, I am seriously, every day, “I am glad I bought this.” Especially some of the frivolous stuff.
ESTER: Yay bathmats that work! And look, you’re also spending time appreciating that purchase right now. Things can be important and great. All a person needs to do is take the time to be grateful for what things do. Experience the things, if you will. And probably not accumulate too many of them.
NICOLE: YES. All of the people who are all “experiences are more important than things” are using a lot of airplanes, backpacks, hiking boots, and $200 bottles of wine to get those experiences. YOU CAN’T DO IT WITHOUT THINGS, PEOPLE.
ESTER: Also, his collection of experiences is giving me a headache, and not just because they all seem to involve drinking (and then going home to pass out in his mom’s house under his picture of Jesus). There has to be more to life than jetting off to Ibiza, downing the most expensive bottle of wine you can kind of afford, and not washing your own underwear.
NICOLE: I mean … for the past five years, my one annual vacation has been “getting on a cruise ship, drinking wine with my friends, and having someone else take care of all the dishes, cleaning, and laundry.” It’s not a terrible way to spend your time. But I also get back from that experience and, like, not drink wine for a month. There is a kind of hangover (literal and figurative). Maybe he hasn’t hit that hangover point yet.
ESTER: The difference is, your vacation is his life. And it sounds like his hangover is imminent. His friends are beginning to peel off and get married. Priorities do tend to shift once The Guys move out of their Peter Pan phase. Unless he wants to raise a family in his childhood bedroom, he’ll move out and start renting; and then, when he gets disgusted by the high and rapidly rising rents and landlords and everything else the rest of us have been disgusted by for years already, he’ll realize that maybe trying to buy does make a little more sense after all. But he’ll have spent his down payment on Thai massages. (By which I really hope he doesn’t mean what I think he means.)
NICOLE: All I know is that he went to Thailand and ate at the restaurant featured in The Hangover, Part II. We can say that’s foreshadowing for what is to come.
ESTER: Isn’t it funny how one person’s cautionary tale can be another person’s user manual?
Which brings us back to #Brexit. Readers, feel free to send us your stories about how #Brexit will affect you, whether in GB or abroad!
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