The Green-Eyed Monster

While I really like the apartment in which we are staying for this year, I have been surprised at how difficult it has been to accept the temporary-ness of our situation. I think it’s becoming harder the older I get, honestly.

The little aggravations I don’t mind so much. I can deal with not having all my clothes, or every single cooking implement in my inventory. In fact, this soon after packout, I don’t mind that my life has been simplified. One of these days I will need a cherry-pitter or my food processor, and then I’ll be ready to see my crap stuff again. But I’m not there yet.

Here’s what gets to me: I walk around Arlington, or my parents’ very Arlington-like neighborhood in Nashville, and it really bugs me that all these people get to settle down in their very cool old houses while I am stuck with white walls and no garden. Most of them even have porches! Oh, how I would love a real porch…

Maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if I were a career-oriented person who was hardly ever home. I know from personal experience that it wouldn’t bother me if I were still chasing toddlers all day. But I am getting close to fifty, people. I have been a Foreign Service spouse for more than half my life. Making houses into homes is what I do. And my career has been stalled out!

Just deciding where to hang the pictures or what slipcovers to order to cover the hideous Drexel sofas isn’t cutting it any more. That is entry-level stuff. I have renovated two houses, which I guess makes me  a mid-level renovator. I want to swing a hammer, design a kitchen, paint a room an actual color, plant a garden. You know, like normal people. Like I was for seven years in the States before I could be convinced to move overseas again.

It also kind of bugs me that after all this time in the Foreign Service, we can’t begin to think of buying that cool old house. At least not in the DC area. Oh, I like the little place that we do own, and I really like the size of the mortgage, which will allow us to travel and otherwise enjoy retirement later on. But how do all these 30-something kids buy turn-of-the-century Clarendon bungalows and fix them up? Must be a lot of inherited money going into down payments is all I can figure.  I am sure it also helps to have forty more years of working life to pay off a mortgage. We don’t.

In short, I am jealous. There, I’ve said it.

It’s not rational: I know some of those people sit on their porches and dream of living in Vienna or traveling to Italy. I know this is a first-world problem. I know I can’t have everything. But, like a toddler, I just want what I want when I want it. And I want a house and garden to play with. Now.

Of course, that is not happening. It might well have, but we decided (quite rationally) that it would be better to do one more overseas tour while the youngest was in college, and while my husband was still off the “fair share” list thanks to an unaccompanied tour a while back.

It was the right decision, and  it still is the right decision. Warsaw will be fun, I know, and I am very much looking forward to exploring northern Europe.

So, I guess I had better grow up, turn off HGTV, and deal.


  1. Hi Kelly . . .I’ve been enjoying your blog for about a year now, and I have a question I’m hoping you might be able to help me with. I just passed the OA, and my issue concerns potential limited medical clearance for one of my kids. If you have a minute, I’d really like to send you a private email in the hope that either you might have some insights, or know someone who does. I’m at gormleyp at rocketmail dot com. Thanks! Paul


    • Hi Paul. All I know about special needs is on the blog, pretty much. If you read my posts under Special Needs and the comments that other people have left on them, you will pick up a lot. It is not easy. I suggest that you contact either MED or the Office of Overseas Schools with your particular concern.


      • Kelly: I just saw your response to my question. Thanks. I’ll check those posts. All the best. Paul


  2. I SO identify with this post! In fact, I’ve (oddly- since I have zero connection there) been cruising Nashville real estate sites. We have our sweet row home in DC which is fabulous, all of that…. but it’s the garden, the front porch, the permanency I CRAVE! Just before joining the FS we had totally renovated a beautiful craftsman which was on the Detroit demo list- (bought it for around $600…but it was in the hood- no trust funds here…). Anyway, I hear you, for me it’s apartment therapy site since we’re overseas now- no HGTV! Will we always want what we haven’t got?


  3. I’m jealous of those cute old Arlington houses too– since I know they will forever be beyond the reach of my government salary at the rate they’ve been going for the last few years! Unfortunately, most of them end up being listed for sale for $750,000 (or more!) and ultimately end up being bulldozed and rebuilt into $2,000,000 behemoths.


  4. Totally feel your pain. I’ve always wanted an old fixer-upper but now that I’m gainfully employed with state everyone keeps advising me that ‘you’ll never live there anyway’. Talk about a downer!


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