Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brewster's Thousands: A Love Story

Remember the movie Brewster's Millions? IMDB sums it up nicely, thusly: "A minor league baseball player has to waste $30m in 30 days in order to inherit $300m; however he's not allowed to tell anyone about the $300m deal."

I basically have the same challenge, except that a) the numbers are more reasonable, and b) I am allowed to acquire assets. Well, Stuff, anyway. We're moving forward toward the new house. Closing is set. We're waiting for a final word from the bank.

This is the Dream House, the aerie for our baby eagles, our home base for the next 20 years or so. It's also substantially larger than our current rental, and so Stuff is needed. Stuff and More Stuff. And, oh, after so many years of pouring every penny into the business, please please let it be Pretty Stuff!

To his everlasting credit, DH has declared that Pretty Stuff is in order at last, and he has given me a generous nest-feathering budget. I still am Midwestern enough to want a bunch of bang for my buck. I've created Pinterest boards for each room of the house, and I've had an absolutely lovely time playing "high/low" with furniture.

But here's the catch:  DH is an entrepreneur's entrepreneur. If there's money sitting around, it squeaks in a Jiminy Cricket voice, "Invest me! Invest me!" until it gets diverted into a new venture. Accordingly, if I do not feather this nest just as fast as I can, my nest-feathering budget will turn into a portfolio-diversifying budget.*

There's another catch: DH, reasonably, wants a say in how his nest is feathered. Here's where I learn that I could never be a designer: you pick out everything, and it works perfectly, and it's all in budget and set for on-time delivery, and then the damned client goes and has opinions. What the what?!

Psst . . . okay, don't pass this around . . . it is lovely that he has opinions. It's nice to be working together again on something, anything.  For a decade, we pulled side by side at the very heavy wagon of a busy law firm. Those were largely harmonious and happy years, surfing the monster waves of a real estate boom and a two-lawyer lifestyle.  All we did was make boatloads of money. We ate a whole lot of take-out. We paid a terrific guy named Wes to walk our dog, tidy our house, and pick up our dry cleaning. We barely fought at all. When we did, it was about making bigger boatloads of money. (Make no mistake, those days went out with Bush II. Do not write to me for cash).

Then came children.

Now, children are a blessing; we'd never go back; they give new meaning your life; radda radda. It's all true.  I also am sure that having small children brings some couples closer together. Somewhere in the universe, surely there is a closer-together couple with kids under five who are cooing about how the night feedings, baby drool, shrieking time-outs, diaper changes, preschool runs, and whack-a-mole bedtimes raised their marriage right up to the next level of intimacy.  Somewhere. In the universe.

When you find that couple, I want you to send them right to me, so I can make a zillion dollars off their Oprah and Ellen appearances.

With saintly patience, therefore, I accept and even cherish DH's decorating vetoes.  I appreciate that he realizes there's a house that keeps the rain off the Stossel.  I also appreciate that he's willing to bankroll a decorating project. I appreciate that a whole lot.

So I strive for good cheer while watching my carefully selected designer-copycat rooms disintegrate into the "collection of stuff we just plain like" style of decorating. At the most extreme our new home will look a lot like our preschooler's outfit from this afternoon's walk: pink and lavendar glitter shoes, white tights, black tulle dress with a leopard print bodice and pink trim, red sweater, pink hat with sequins, purple mittens. It's a total fashion mashup, and she's happy, because it's all stuff she likes.

Mashup or not, it's all good.  The last five years have been a very rolly rollercoaster.  I feel -- and am truly lucky that -- we've made it to the rollout, a long clankety place where I can slow down a little, breathe a little, and relish the mundane-but-not-simple task of picking out furniture with my husband. For the nonce. Until he finds a new capital-intensive venture. Spend! Spend like the wind!


* Lest you think I joke about allocation of resources, when we owned our last house DH bought an airplane while I frittered around delaying the kitchen remodel until a cabinet door actually fell off in my hand. Although I have never claimed to be the brightest bulb on the tree, I don't intend to make this mistake twice.

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