Friday, May 7, 2010

More on Money and Happiness

This is a story about the best things in life happening by accident. But it also involves a pretty shocking outlay of money. One evening last fall, our neighbors asked us to watch their two girls, ages 8 and 11, for a couple hours. They and our daughter are friends and it was easy to say yes. I don't know what they started playing but eventually they began playing "dress up." They would go up to Isabella's room and get her dressed in her nicest clothes, including shoes and accessories. After each change, Isabella would come down the stairs, and be announced by one of the girls. My wife and I were sitting on the couch, in the living room, at the bottom of the stairs. The fireplace was on, candles flickered and glowed - the lighting, accidentally, was perfect for the occasion. You know that feeling you get when everything is perfect? I had that, and for more than just a moment. Happiness was washing over me, wave after wave. After they had spent Isabella's wardrobe, they decided to dance. The neighbors are pretty good on the piano, and they took turns on the baby grand behind us. So it ended up that Isabella and a neighbor girl were twirling around in front of the warm fire, in front of us, while another girl sat and played perfectly imperfect behind us. Can you hear the music? The laughter? Can you feel that warm fire? I can still, these many months later. As I was sitting there that night, I was thinking about all the bullshit that I had been through that made that night possible. The shitty childhood which caused me to want a cliche for my children - a big house, a fireplace, a piano. The disastrous first marriage that caused me to get it perfect the second time. The miserable jobs that made our first house possible and then the second and made it possible for my wife to start her law practice which helped make this house possible. I realized that I had worked my whole life to put the pieces in place for this night to unfold. And all that was left was to sit there and let it happen. I traded who knows how much pain for that night. I can't even guess what that night cost, but it was worth much more.

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