Thursday I babysat for a new family. First, I would like to repeat that someone needs to slap me when I even think about watching two children. And when they are one and two years old I should be slapped twice. Maybe even really hard. But that's an issue for another day.
Today we are talking about apartment envy. I've heard our friends here talk about how they would like a larger apartment, or one in a different place, or one like someone they know has. Let's face it, there's always someone out there with nicer stuff than our own. But apartments are small here in Florence, and most of them are extremely expensive. Most of them are also very dark, as in few windows and those are close to an adjacent building.
We are very lucky. Our apartment is pretty large, by local standards. It's fairly modern (built in the 1930's) but in desperate need of paint and some love. New furniture. Maybe a few pictures on the wall. It has oodles of potential, which in real estate terms translates into looks like crap but can be saved if enough time and money are lavished on it.
Today I spent a couple of hours in an apartment anyone, in any city, would be thrilled to live in. Well, unless you're filthy rich, but it would make a nice "roughing it" getaway. Two floors, fireplace, three (!) bathrooms, two terraces and a roof garden. An elevator. OK, some of it's over the top. No one needs a genuine zebra skin rug. They probably photoshopped the picture of themselves with the Pope.
I shouldn't be feeling this way. I've been here a year and this whole time I have been truly grateful just to have a place to live that wasn't the size of a phone booth and that remains bugless, if you don't count the mosquitoes, which we won't. I've seen first-hand what that urge to keep up with the Joneses (or the Martellis, or whoever) can do to a life. I don't want to go there again. I don't want to spend all my time working for the apartment or on the apartment. It's so easy to start with paint and end up with all new furniture and floors and windows and....you get what I'm saying. It's so easy for "want" to be understood as "need" and suddenly there's never enough money. And then, instead of enjoying each day for the miracle that it is, I could find myself wondering how many jobs I have to work for this or that thing that I need.
So I either have to start nesting a bit and practice incredible self-control or continue to live in a place that was last painted in the 1980's. None of the plaster has actually fallen onto our heads yet. And it's warm(ish) and dry. Everything else is just frosting on the cake.