The high cost of low living

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An expensive jar of pickles finally gave me some perspective on…perspective.

One of my more finely-honed skills is buying shit that I don’t need. I maximize the potential by occasionally purchasing an item that I don’t need AND I don’t want. Some people consider these items “mistakes,” but when you turn the Hater Mode dial down a few notches, it becomes pretty clear that life has blessed me with “opportunities to learn.” The more you know, the more you grow. (Credit: Either LeVar Burton or Dr. Seuss)

When I have an uncontrollable urge to spend money, I stay away from stores with big-tickets items. Those “learning opportunities” are too hard to hide. I only know this because I once bought a daybed with a big gaping hole in the center where the mattress support beams should have been. Even when the sales associate expressed doubt that I would find replacement parts, it still seemed like a solid purchase. I mean, 70% off the original retail price. It’s a little greedy to expect everything for almost nothing. Harv asked questions like “When you tell me not to go into the library, don’t you think that makes me suspicious?” and “Isn’t a daybed useless if we can’t put a mattress on it?”

I’m not really a fan of people who show off their reasoning skills.

I now limit most of my reckless purchases to the grocery store. When I spotted the elegantly-shaped jar of pickles for twice the price of the crunchy little bitches I normally enjoy, I immediately recognized it as a need AND a want. My family claims that I have an unrefined palette, but would a non-foodie invest in a jar of artisanal-quality pickles? Be real.

In my haste to get all of the groceries into the house from our subterranean garage, I condensed the normally nine-step process into two. When I finally had all of the bags on the landing at the top of the stairs, I accidentally kicked the pickles and watched as the jar popped out of the bag and started rolling down the steps. Maybe it really did roll down slowly or maybe the trauma has colored my recollection. Six steps down, the lid loosened and brine started splashing out.

As I watched those expensive bitches tumble towards the bottom, I winced and thought, “UNREAL. This is the worst thing that has ever happened in my entire life.” And I really, really meant it.

When the jar finally crashed into a wall, most of the liquid already gone, I braced myself for the breakage, shards of glass everywhere. But it remained intact (probably because those motherfuckers weren’t kidding around about that artisanal-quality hype), except for the lid which fell off and the two pickles that followed with it. I did what I thought was best: I retrieved the jar, wiped it down, and stuck it in the fridge.

While I cleaned pickle juice off everything else, it occurred to me that no one is immune to feeling the dings of everyday life. Those small dings can feel so huge and overwhelming in the moment. As a former runaway, homeless pregnant teen, single mom, welfare recipient, and abused partner, I still couldn’t help thinking that a ruined jar of pickles was the worst fucking thing to ever happen to me.

I allow so many inconsequential people and events to affect my sphere on a daily basis, and each ding ruins my day and makes me unhappy and makes me wish I had a car wash for the sole purpose of burying people under it. Tiny grievances take root and break my peace.

My own behavior is the only piece I can control, and when I can’t even reign that in, the most basic action I can take is to keep my perspective in check. I’m currently living a life that is so far removed from the bottom place where I started. Even when I recognize the incredible blessings in my life, I still forget that there are people who face so much more. Things that actually matter.

But in the world of things that don’t matter, I guess pickle wreckage is still pretty fucked up.
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P.S. My friend, Bennett, recently founded Onionflix.com. I think it’s a pretty dope concept. He’s committed $100,000 to buying videos from both amateur and professional filmmakers who are interested in promoting a “good cry” with positive inspiration. Bennett started Onionflix to honor his parents and the true love their marriage exemplified. Read more here about their amazing story. “Life is fragile. Don’t waste a moment holding grudges or worrying about the little things. Don’t screw up amazing relationships with impulsive temptations. Don’t be lazy. Be honest. Be bold. Most importantly, find someone to love unconditionally.”

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Comments

  1. Melissa Burton says:

    I’m a sucker for most “shiny, new things” especially if it’s in the grocery store. Even when it’s not “shiny” or “new” if it’s from the carb family. Thanks for the little lift EJL!

  2. It’s weird how we constantly recalibrate our perspective to the latest things that have happened– I can relate to what you said about having been in some really low, shitty, places and yet the slightest thing will seem a tragedy– for me it’s usually when I’m getting gas and the damn auto pumping holder thing won’t stay down, it just waits until I’ve sat my lazy arse back in the seat to go *CLICK* “no bitch, it ain’t happenin.” This has ruined many of my days.

  3. TheCourageousLion says:

    I love all of your posts, but today really spoke to me. Thank you.

  4. I’m wondering – if I buy those fake vintage style boxes of Lucky Charms, can I call it artisanal cereal and refuse to share?

    More importantly, I thought I was having a bad day because I forgot to wash my favorite dress and then I went to therapy. Perspective : I have it.

  5. You know what? I like you. I do NOT like pickles. But I won’t hold that against you.

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