I told myself not to spend the money. I needed to save up for a down payment on a house, or an apartment, or a condo…or something.
There was always going to be something I should be saving for. Something to pay off, whether they be credit card bills or college loans for a degree I’m not really using. Apparently, that is adulthood: always restraining yourself from the things you want in order to keep a roof under your head, pizza on the stove, and liquor in the cabinet. The basic essentials for me, someone who doesn’t own, nor want a car. Buying a car means more expenses that I’ll forever have to budget for. Car note, gas, car insurance. Money flying out of my hands and towards a bunch of expensive shit that I do not want.
A couple weeks ago, I allowed myself to lose control. To stop thinking about bills and school loans and credit cards and just…buy what the fuck I wanted for once in my life. Getting a new job put more money in my hands and there was a certain freedom that came with that. A freedom that was promptly snatched away as I began to think about improving my finances all around. I didn’t think about paying down debt that day though. I thought about the things I loved, the things I used to love, and the things I lacked in my wardrobe. Art, plants, drawing, fine wine, good liquor, Nike sandals, more shoes, Moonshine, new experiences.
I love new experiences.
I love art. I haven’t really drawn in over a year, and before that brief drawing spree, a couple years before that. Buying art supplies cost money and since, I wasn’t really an artist, I couldn’t justify continuing to spend money on art supplies I never had the time nor the energy to use. But I ended up at Michael’s while procrastinating on doing my daily word count for a novel I’ve been working on and also trying to distract my mind from my empty stomach while I fasted.
I needed that distraction.
I needed something that would fill me in a way that food doesn’t. That collecting money for greedy corporations could never do. I needed it to pull me away from working on things that never return the favor; from pouring out energy in places where I will never see it again.
There is something a little bit magical about art supply stores. They tend to have all of the things you need to be an artist and some of the things you need to just be creative. They also keep in stock something I didn’t even know I was looking for.
I needed journaling.
Though I blog and write frequently across various projects, I no longer write to my diary like I did when I was a child. I spent years in my childhood carefully picking out composition notebooks and beautifully bound journals with colorful covers to write down my daily thoughts in. I emptied all of my hopes and dreams and fears and nightmares and wet dreams into those pages. In my journals, nothing was off limits. I never restrained myself from thinking or feeling anything. I could do whatever I wanted if I wrote it down.
That was back when I thought I was free.
Now, I know better. I know that we are born to suffer, to work, mostly doing things that we either don’t enjoy or, if we do enjoy them, don’t pay us enough to really thrive. We live like tropical, banana trees always in the gust of a southern winter. No, it’s not cold enough for us to die, but… is this really what survival is supposed to feel like?
Barely hanging on. Is this America? I think it is America. This is the lifestyle that the forefathers imagined. Those on the bottom must work like slaves to barely slide by, to only just stay alive. And there are those in the middle floundering between climbing higher and being dragged lower. One or two missed bills away from poverty.
I needed those journals I found in the aisles of that art store. It has been a couple weeks, and though I have not made any journal entries, I found myself writing lyrics to songs that sounded within my head. I was creating. Giving myself little pushes forward in my own creative process and becoming more of a musician.
Because I spent $10 buying colorful journals in an art store, I found a little place to find a little freedom, to express myself in a different way. I think back upon those few hours spent alone with my journal and a recorder and feel at peace. I created something a little outside of my comfort zone. I took a step in a new direction, one of growth, of healing, of building another career for myself. But I didn’t pay a credit card bill.
I bought new sandals. Adidas. They cost far too much, but they are so comfortable. I walk around in them in the house. I use them at my standing desk when I write. I took them outside and showed them the garden. They are kind to my soles, my feet nearly as flat as the ground itself. I like them. They implanted an elusive feeling inside of me that I’d almost forgotten. I don’t buy new shoes very often anymore. Shopping has become a low priority. I had forgotten how much shopping fed my soul. As much as the water feeds my little Japanese maples.
There are so many ways that you can free yourself. I found a little more freedom halfway through a bottle of red wine. I watched a TV show about vampires and witches. I smile with glee every time I get to see a black vampire. A character I have become attached to dies and everyone mourns. I mourn as well, half drunk and quivering beneath a blanket in an overstuffed chair. There is freedom in tears too.
I have to remind myself.
I have to remind myself that while I’m so busy paying down debt and saving for my future, I have to do things in my present. I cannot be stuck between the money I have spent and the money I have yet to spend. I have to spend money now, doing things that fill me, that empty me, that break me, and that heal me. I have to have new experiences daily, even if it’s a new flavor of coffee I’ve never tried or a gluten-free, sugar-free doughnut created by some overzealous vegan bakery.
I have to remind myself that everything I buy doesn’t have to be a necessity, doesn’t need to make me “more adult” in anyway, and that there are ways to find small bits of happiness even as I continue to figure out my life.
Everyone should remind themselves everyday to do things that they love, to find new things to love, and to step a little bit out of their comfort zones, to keep growing, to widen themselves and add some depth, to be shallow and non-substantial, to be whatever the hell they want to be that day. For me, I’m reminding myself, again, for the 87th time.
Hey, you broke bitch. You work hard for your money and you deserve nice things all the time.