Just Thinking: My Husband Was Right About Everything


Tiny House in a windstorm — Photo by Tammy Strobell, flickr.com/rowdykittens

About a year ago, my husband told me I didn’t need another article of clothing — I have everything I will ever need. Good, I said. I doubled my wardrobe budget. This is the same guy who said in the early years of our marriage, “I could live in a cardboard box. People are taking up too much space. Houses are too big. All you need is a room, a patch of grass, and a bicycle.”

One day in 1967, after reading an article about how much land it took to raise cattle, he said, “I’m not eating meat anymore. It takes too much water to raise a cow. And the methane is a greenhouse gas.” It was as if he were speaking in tongues. Of course it wasn’t as if I had to sneak my steak. He made those decisions for his own existence.

As our marriage deepened and we got to know each other even better, I noticed his worries were very different from mine. I worried whether the kids would eat the brown rice carob cookies I had baked and packed for them, or if they would trade them with other kids whose parents hadn’t caught up with my high consciousness. I could see in my mind’s eye my children chowing down on Nabisco-cottonseed-oil-Keebler-marshmallow-filled-white-flour confections while little strangers were getting their immune systems boosted by my forward-thinking labor. I worried that we wouldn’t be invited to Beverly Greenberg’s brunch. I worried that I had gained too much weight, and my Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress wouldn’t be able to wrap all the way around.

He worried about the planet. Earth — the actual planet.

When Carter was president and asked us all to turn down our thermostats, my husband said, “Sixty-four is good. Wear a sweater.”

In the ’70s, during the oil crisis, “divest” became his new buzzword. I didn’t think we had that much stuff in the first place. But I saw, for him, that buying more was way worse a sin than coveting thy neighbor’s ass.

Fast-forward to 2015. First, he was right about EVERYTHING. And second, I now have come to see some of it his way.

The other day on NPR, someone said that if everyone would give up one meat meal a week, we’d have enough water for the whole country for one more year. I’ve met people in the small-house movement, and they’re not crazy or poor. They have sold their big houses and moved into smaller spaces. I have friends who have sold almost all their worldly goods, and say they feel a lightness of being.

However, a problem has arisen in the midst of all this. I am now the recipient of much of what they are giving away. I just got a gorgeous 8-foot by 10-foot sisal rug from a friend. When I told my husband we got an 8 by 10 beautiful rug from Mike and Randi, he said, “Eight by 10? Where is it going?”

And then another buddy who was moving gave me the most stunning stained glass lamp. And on the same day, yet another friend bequeathed me a set of fabulous red glass see-through dishes.

My husband’s point was valid. Where do I put all this stuff?

So now I have an even greater dilemma. How do I tell my protector of the beautiful blue marble … that we need to build on a new room?

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