So I grew up in New England, and we tend not to talk about money all that much. Especially if we’re having money difficulty; we go all stoic and stiff-upper-lip and try to “make do and mend”, resorting to repairing things that break instead of buying new or waiting for sales or reverse-engineering our own solutions. Or just going without. This is the kind of approach that can be carried too far, of course – there have been times that I have been almost pathologically afraid to spend money on myself. Also, all the frugality in the world isn’t going to help you if you’re just plain not making enough money to begin with.
That latter state was my lot for the past couple years. But – the new job has fixed that, and then some. And it’s taken a couple weeks to sink in, but….I’m starting to get into it.
Now, I’m not going totally bugnuts, buying up entire racks of shoes or renting a yacht to go to Martha’s Vineyard just for lunch or anything like that. I’ve maybe spent more than I should on books, but the bulk of the money I got from my first paycheck went either to paying down some debt, starting a nest egg, or finally getting some long-needed house stuff. (Hellooooooooo, replacement window blinds! Welcome, stash of bulbs! Hi there, no-longer-threadbare pillowcases!)
When it comes to things I’ve been buying sheerly for pleasure, they’ve actually been comparatively modest: a couple yards of fabric to go towards a quilt I’ve been working on (yes, I’m making an actual quilt), a couple pounds of candle wax to round out the candlemaking stash Niki gave me (rather than buying the actual pre-made candles, which was getting costly), or a couple of utterly gorgeous French cookbooks (I make no excuse because I don’t need one dammit). Or going to the occasional movie. Or just going out for ice cream or dinner or lunch.
Or actually paying people back. The thing that saddened me most about being so cash-poor for so long is that my friends have had to cover me more times than not – never anything big, just a couple extra bucks here, an extra five there, whenever we went out. Or even the convenience move – if a group of us were gathering for a movie run, it would always be someone else who’d say “I’ll pick up the tickets and y’all can just owe me.” It would always be someone else saying “what the hell, I can put dinner on my card and y’all can just owe me the cash.” We usually settled up, I told myself, but it would always be someone else making that initial convenience step.
Tonight I am seeing a movie with a few friends; we were planning our attack this morning, and in the middle of the discussion I popped over to the movie theater site and just got our three tickets without even thinking. “I got our tickets,” I emailed back, “so we can all just meet there.”
“Oh, great! Thanks!”
And the feeling I get simply because I am able to do that – and may even be able to cover them for a car to get them home after – is a feeling that I have been missing for a long time.