Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.
This week: Spend wisely
Between 7:46-7:49 every Tuesday and Friday evening, I cycle through intense waves of disappointment and depression as I digest the fact that I have, YET AGAIN, been passed over by the California Mega Millions Lottery. It used to take a lot longer for the tightness in my chest to subside, but I’ve condensed the grieving process down to less than five minutes these days. I guess that’s what happens when something as fragile as hope is sullied over and over again. It becomes hard and ugly, and each new assault is less apparent.
Harv will rub my back and say some bullshit about how I have to buy a lottery ticket in order to win. “The lottery is a ‘pay to play’ deal. That’s how they get the jackpot in the first place. How do you expect to win if you don’t even have any numbers to match?”
This “pay to play” idea scares me. It’s not that I’m unwilling to fork over one whole dollar twice a week. I just don’t trust myself when it comes to making solid decisions about my dolla dolla billz.
Money, or rather, the lack thereof, ruled my life for a long time. Whoever is going around perpetuating the myth that money doesn’t buy happiness is either really rich and doesn’t give a shit or really poor and self-soothing. Being poor is fucking miserable. Working a series of low-paying, soul-sucking jobs colored every decision I made.
Cash ruled everything around me.
When Cal was five, a young photographer offered to do a Mother and Daughter photo session for $75. I was working the front end at a dry cleaner, settling tabs, rifling through pockets, and noting stains for $8 an hour before taxes, and the thought of wasting two days’ wages on something we couldn’t eat or put on our backs seemed ridiculous and unnecessary. I didn’t even give the offer a second thought.
A friend who had taken advantage of the photographer’s offer challenged my decision. This homegirl’s background in advertising really helped as she campaigned for me to change my mind, unafraid to mention that I would regret not having “nice pictures” someday.
My hands shook a little as I wrote the $75 check, mostly because I was afraid it wasn’t going to clear, but also because I was mentally scrolling through everything I would have to give up for the next few weeks to make those stupid pictures happen.
When it came time to order pictures, I passed on most of them, ordering just a handful in 5×7.
What I didn’t realize then…What I know now, is that I should have been glad to sift through dirty suit pockets, extracting crumpled receipts and used condoms (come on guys, what the fuck compels you to put these back in your pocket?) for the chance to capture this slice of time with my kid.
My favorite 5×7 is clipped to a floral pinboard, and each day, when I’m looking around my office instead of doing real work, my eyes land on it. I am reminded of the time when it was just the two of us.
When I got married, I let cash rule my life again. I suddenly had more. And I was determined to spend the shit out of my newfound cash flow. I didn’t even know what I was buying most of the time, but damn, it just felt good to buy it. YES, I WILL TAKE THAT CAFTAN IN EVERY SINGLE COLOR. Do I wear caftans? Fuck no. But I have ’em, just in case.
I am now coming to a middle place. A middle place where I know the real value of a dollar fluctuates, determined by the experiences I trade it in for. I emailed that photographer. I hope she still has our pictures on file. I plan to buy the biggest fucking size of every single shot.
View more slices of life like the Mother/Daughter picture above on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress).
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