Adulthood Quiz: What Can You Live Without?

Awhile back, I posted on five household items you can do without, as well as five household items you *can’t* do without. Both posts were inspired by the myriad tchotchkes that pepper our house, courtesy of my gadget-loving husband.

I got to thinking about this very issue once again this weekend on a somewhat grander scale when two things that had gone missing from my life unexpectedly reappeared.

The first was a dishwasher. As I noted when talking about why we all need a wife, my dishwasher died about six weeks ago. Ever since, I’ve been washing dishes for our four-person household by hand. On Friday, the new dishwasher finally arrived and I’ll say it here first:  God, do I love my new dishwasher. Yes, I could have managed just fine without one. But I literally feel *blessed* everytime I place a dish in its new home, rather than piling them up in the sink.

The second thing from a former life which reappeared over the weekend was – oddly enough – a health club. When I first moved to London, I wrote an essay for the Guardian Weekly about how the cost of living was so high in this city that my husband and were forced to become Green by default. It wasn’t so much that we embraced Green living as that we had no choice; overnight, certain things had just become prohibitively expensive. So we gave up those staples of middle-class American life: two cars…a tumble dryer… and our health club memberships. And both of us started exercising outdoors; he cycling and I running.

But this past weekend my son was invited to a birthday party at a health club. While the kids played, the adults got a free workout. I went nuts. I climbed a StairMaster, I used an elliptical trainer, I lifted some weights…heck, I even took a sauna. And I topped it all off with a lovely cappuccino in the adjoining cafe where – posh mama that I am…(not) – I purchased some long overdue yoga gear. In a word: spectacular.

But unlike my new dishwasher, I came away from the whole health club experience thinking that – much as I enjoyed being in a fancy gym for two hours – I’m not sure that it’s something I actually need in my life. I’m actually quite happy just going running. I like the feeling of freedom it affords. I like the odd assortment of people and animals that I encounter along the way (which in my hood’ runs the gamut from Helena Bonham Carter to wild foxes). I like the cold air waking me up as it hits my face. And most of all, I like that it doesn’t cost a penny (pence).

In short, I learned that I could live without a health club.

As we grow older, it’s worth reflecting now and again on what we need in our lives to make us happy and what we can do without.

How about you? What creature comforts could you let go of?


I was absolutely thrilled to get this shout out from the blog This Bird’s Day about my essay “Married to a Metrosexual” in the forthcoming Chicken Soup For The Soul: True Love. It made my day!

Image: day1DSC_0055.jpg by journojen via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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  • Reply Shelley

    February 8, 2010, 1:05 pm

    I did without a car for 4 1/2 years when I first came to England. I’d had a car every minute of my life since I was 16. I don’t have a dish washer and don’t really want one. I have a tumble dryer but maybe use it once a year. Haven’t had a garbage disposal in 15 years (we compost). Don’t do dry cleaning anymore. I wouldn’t say I was green, so much as frugal, but of course the two usually go hand-in-hand. Love your blog!

  • Reply Lindsey

    February 8, 2010, 2:33 pm

    I could easily live without a tv – as it is I turn it only only for my children and do not watch myself. Super easy to give that up, it happened just naturally. I also have always used cloth napkins and real plates and am amazed when I see disposable ones of those in others’ homes – that we should ALL be doing without!
    I could not, however, give up my computer or my internet connection! No way!

  • Reply Jennifer

    February 8, 2010, 4:32 pm

    I easily live without fast food, a fancy/expensive car, drycleaning and (most of the time) meat. But I must have Netflix, coffee beans, organic fruit and milk and moisturizers that work!

  • Reply Jean

    February 8, 2010, 11:48 pm

    Hey Delia…congrats on the shout out to your essay! woo hoo! We did without a car for our 3 years in London, but funnily enough ended up with a tumble dryer (still English, so funky drying) by way of Landlord misinformation about the parking garage alloted with our flat that did not materialize, that we ultimately didn’t care about anyway. We “acquiesced” and negotiated the dryer.. HA!

  • Reply daryl boylan

    February 9, 2010, 12:04 am

    I can and do live without Facebook, Blue Tooth, Blackberry, a GPS, high heels & apparently hundreds of other items I haven’t even even heard of, tho’ strange names do keep cropping up in ads, stores, etc. Cannot do without a car because I live in a ‘burb, email (who knew that one even existed until recently?) or a radio or,I must confess, netflix.

  • Reply delialloyd

    February 9, 2010, 10:05 am

    mom-amazed that you even know what blue tooth is. bravo!

  • Reply katykeim

    February 9, 2010, 4:27 pm

    Things I can’t do without:
    1. Good coffee (this is where I plug Peet’s).
    2. The Internet.
    3. A great book.
    4. MadMen

    Things I can do without:
    1. TV
    2. A Blackberry
    3. Business travel

    I think this economy has made us aware of a lot more things we can s t r e t c h to do without….

    • Reply delialloyd

      February 9, 2010, 9:45 pm

      yeah i’ve managed to avoid hte whole blackberry thing so far as well. not sure i’ll hold out much longer but i do love going to a cafe and *not* being tempted to check my email…

    • Reply delialloyd

      February 9, 2010, 9:45 pm

      yeah i’ve managed to avoid hte whole blackberry thing so far as well. not sure i’ll hold out much longer but i do love going to a cafe and *not* being tempted to check my email…

    • Reply delialloyd

      February 9, 2010, 9:45 pm

      yeah i’ve managed to avoid hte whole blackberry thing so far as well. not sure i’ll hold out much longer but i do love going to a cafe and *not* being tempted to check my email…

  • Reply GoDonnie

    February 9, 2010, 8:45 pm

    I’ve been living in a small apartment in Buenos Aires for the past 3 months. I don’t miss a car, more fun and direct on buses and metro, don’t miss dishwasher because I don’t cook as much, eating more simply or out. Love dropping off laundry and getting it the next day. Haven’t watched TV at all and I almost made it without air-conditioning, but gave in to new apartment. I wear the same clothes over and over and am quite creative mixing them.

    I’m not taking care of a family, they’re all grown so life is easier alone.

    Must have: my laptop as I need to keep in touch,good coffee, a decent hair dye and cut every few months and good wine.

    • Reply delialloyd

      February 9, 2010, 9:46 pm

      AC is an interesting one. We live in London where you dont really need it for the most part. But my husband is from atlanta where it’s a must. thanks for dropping by!

  • Reply oilandgarlic

    February 16, 2010, 8:40 pm

    I just found your blog and I can already tell that there are a lot of interesting things to read. I am approaching 40 so I guess it’s time to grow up!

    Things I can do without: iphone, ipod, microwave oven, dryer.
    Things I can’t do without: high speed internet, washing machine, navigator and dishwasher.

    I, too, love and appreciate my dishwasher even if it’s 10+ years old and on its last legs. I also really love our washing machine. A few years of hauling clothes to a laundromat and wasting hours of weekend afternoons will do that to a person!

  • Reply Sheri

    June 9, 2010, 4:48 pm

    Hi Delia,

    I love your site. I could also live without a healthclub. We are always outside in the summer and I live a few minutes away from Canada’s largest mall which is great for walking in the winter.

    I could also live without fastfood, iphone, home exercise equipment and a printer/fax/scanner.

    I lived without a dishwasher for 10 years, 5 when I was single and 5 when married. We now have a dishwasher and I am so happy. Every time I put a dish in, I smile :)

    PS – Thank for the shout out about the shout out – it was a great story…

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