We just won the lottery.
No, not Powerball or MegaMillions or whatever those lottery games are all called, but really, it's like winning the lottery.
It is NOT like winning the lottery in that someone, a certain Boy, had to work really hard and slave away and be miserable for almost 7 years and I had to do my best not to become frustrated and let my head explode for those same almost 7 years to get here. It's definitely earned.
Maybe I should have started it off with "we just earned the lottery," but that really doesn't make much sense, or speak to the concept I've been thinking about, which is how often people really do ever get that big surge of money that they can use to put fuel behind their dreams, and the fact that we are about to be able to do just that, and how rare that really is.
Most people, I tend to think, work jobs (either for themselves or for someone else) and slowly make incremental improvements in their salary - 5% here, 10-15% there for a promotion or move to a new company. People dream of the day they can get enough money together to go on that dream vacation, buy that dream car, figure out how to remodel the house or upgrade the flooring/appliances. And it's sad, but I think what happens mostly is those dreams never get the fuel they need to happen - the money never quite accrues like that.
Throughout this grad school experience, I kept my job despite wanting to leave it several times, paid most of the bills, and we have lived nicely. We have a nice nest egg in savings and retirement, and have been able to do much of what we wanted. There are, however, those same dreams for our lives that we have thought up in the last 7 years - the dream vacation at the end of school, some electronics, an upgrade to my laptop, a new TV, maybe even cable, the hardwood floors we put off when my job quit paying bonuses. There were times, when the bleakness of the undefined graduate school timeline stretches off past the horizon, that I wondered if it would ever happen - was graduation really even possible? And if it was, would it somehow be less than we were dreaming in terms of making the future we wanted possible?
I tend to not believe in crazy changes; life has a way of evening things out so that there are few instances where you really do fall off a cliff (metaphorically speaking), or say, suddenly win the lottery. And when they do happen, they come with enough strings and red tape that they wind up not being as wild as you would have thought them to be originally ("I won a million dollars in the lottery!" for example becomes, "oh, I get paid out $20,000 a year for the next 10 years and owe half of it in taxes...").
Now, though, standing at the precipice of the end of grad school, the Boy will actually graduate (in 4 days, no less!!) and within a month, we will essentially win the lottery and be able to enjoy making those things possible.
I'm not saying this to brag about how great we're doing - not at all. I'm saying that I realize not many people get to do what we get to do, and I'm immensely awed by it, now that it is becoming real. I feel that I need to recognize it, and be mindful of what a rare opportunity we have. While we worked hard for it (him in particular), I am spending some time reflecting on it because it certainly should not pass unnoticed or be taken for granted.
I am also immensely glad I've always taken time to think through what I would do if I won a million dollars. I already have a plan....