Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share. This week was a little rough since I feel like I opened a can of worms this past Sunday. I am so glad Friday came about knowing my BIL was gone for the weekend.
So what happened was my husband brought up that his brother wants to get a shed in our backyard to store his stuff. When my BIL moved in, he took up A LOT of space. Prior to him moving, my husband cleaned up the garage hoping it would finally become a two car garage with a proper station for his tools. Then his brother moved in. We thought he was going to just move in and occupy the spare room, but it reality he took the room and half of the garage with a bunch of his stuff. He even took up a good part of our backyard. He even bought a greenhouse thinking he would get into gardening. He also got a miniature wind turbine, some solar panels, and a basketball hoop. Side note: the greenhouse broke from one of the windy nights. It has not been fixed since then. When he got the mini wind turbine, he asked if we knew anyone with a post hole digger. We had to put our foot down that we did not want him to dig our yard for his mini wind turbine.
I almost agreed to him getting a shed, but I had to really think about it. It may have meant finally freeing up the garage, but my husband always HATED the idea of having of having a shed in the yard. I even brought that up to my husband that he does not like sheds, that should have been enough to just say “no.”
Then after some thought I said, “we just can’t let him buy a shed. He does not even pay for rent here. Let’s say if he moves out, he needs to take his shed with him because we don’t want to deal with it.” My husband told me to talk to his brother about it. A few minutes later, that was what I did. I just went ahead and told him and he was very shocked. And so was my husband. My husband was shocked the way I brought it up; I did not provide a preface. Was I suppose provide a preface? I served it cold and stoic. I did not build up to the main point, I just went straight for it. I said, “Hey I heard you want a shed for your stuff. I understand that you need storage space for stuff to free up our garage but here it is what I think: you take up a lot of space for someone who does not pay rent.” He said “I know.” He did say other stuff, but I told him to not interrupt. And then I go on about how we (my husband and I) thought this living situation was going a temporary thing, we thought he could be independent on his own. Then it was back to talking about how having a shed is a thing we don’t want. Then I compromised, he can have his shed under the condition that he pays rent. But in the event he leaves, he needs to take his shed and everything else here otherwise we would just get rid of it. I think that is reasonable.
He replied, “I know.” He does have a job now, but he shared he has a lot of stuff to take care of. He was very reluctant to include rent as one more thing to take care of. I am truly sympathetic to his situation, but my reply was “welcome to the real world.”
My BIL started to grow hot by telling me, “not everyone had to go grow up in a loving stable household. Some of us had to struggle.” He goes on about how some get out of it (referring to my husband), while others stay struggling. It rubbed me the wrong way. I have a loving family, but they never coddled me to do nothing. When I was younger, I wished they did because I was tired of working for everything all the time. Why could I not be that person who just got stuff because I asked for it just once?
But as I got older I’m glad they never coddled. I felt they prepared me with coping with the bitter pills of the real world. I was always optimistic about the next steps of life like moving out of my parent’s house and living in West LA or getting my own cellphone, but I kept things realistic on what’s to come. I knew living in West LA was going to be expensive, but it beats taking the commuter bus to school every day. Also, I thought it would be fun to live near the beach. I knew it is one thing to buy a cellphone and another thing to make payments on a monthly plan. I was ready to take it on, the good and the bad.
I’ve made my fair share of stupid decisions. I was in credit card debt and there was a time I was late for rent constantly. There was a time I was almost kicked out of my apartment because I was so late on rent. I had to take on gig jobs like catering and tutoring to help me stay afloat because I was a bonehead in finances. I even considered moving back in with my parents even if it meant spending two hours of my day commuting to school and back.
I was poor and naïve in finances, but I had grit and determination to get myself out. I had lots of goals and I was aware a lot of it required money. Even when I had a full-time job after college, I did pick some gig work. In my early twenties I lived in San Diego and it was so dang expensive. I still had debt to take care of and bills to pay. I also bought a car because San Diego was not public transit and pedestrian friendly compared to West LA. I complained to my parents about how I was so tired having two jobs but I needed two jobs because my full-time job was not enough income for me to live on. My parents told me “welcome to the real world.”
When my BIL suggested that we are not relatable, I’ll admit, it did rub me the wrong way. He (and so many others before) have implied that I don’t understand struggle. My husband told me maybe if I talked about my struggles in my early 20s, he would find me more relatable. I thought about it really hard. After looking back, my struggles versus my BIL’s (and my husband’s) are very different. Their struggles happened in childhood shaping their point-of-view. They talk about how they grew up poor, but they never quite elaborated. My financial mistakes happened in adulthood and I took ownership those mistakes. I was the one who chose to move out of my parents’ house, I was the one who signed up for credit cards. When you are a child growing up poor, you feel like you don’t have control of your world. A child did not choose to grow up poor.
This is going to sound incredibly outrageous, but for me, being a poor college student and struggling in my early 20s was more like a rite of passage.I learned the hard way on how to live on so little and I do not need much to make myself happy. I don’t need an extensive wardrobe, a closet just for shoes, a new car, etc. All I need is exercise, being outside, cooking, and being creative just to be happy. Signing up for credit cards was one of the things I regretted doing in college. I wished back then I learned that living more simply would have made me happier.
When Friday came yesterday I was so relieved to know he went back to his hometown. We have not talked to each other all week. I am sure I could have approached it more gently like asked him how his job was going. Then it would lead to “hey because you have income, you can pay for rent now.” And then it would lead to “because you pay for rent, you can have the shed.”