I’m blowing the freelance-writer monthly budget for this brief trip to the Bay Area to see this kid of mine who suddenly lives and works here. Some piggy bank protecting rainy-day reserves is in for a pummelling, I’m afraid. Sorry, piggy. But if there’s something I’ve learned as gray (silver?) layers thicken atop my head, it’s paying for experiences is the far more delicious pain than paying for, you know, the superfluous stuff of our desires. Like, I’ve wanted some stupid brand of stupid car for a while. Doesn’t matter which one. I started noticing it all over the place once I started to want it. Want … not need . . . but feel, in my more self-centered, insecure moments, that I’ve “earned” it or whatever, because I’ve been told life is short, etc. etc.
I’ve resisted pulverising the piggy, though, and for that I pat myself on the back. Good boy. Good parsimonious boy. Except flying on relatively short notice to San Francisco and paying for a few days out-and-about is one of the more extravagant American urban pleasures, I have to admit. So my responsible financial profile is skewed. Skew it. Um, screw it.
Because we will appreciate and remember these few days forever, the things we see and do in the short, spare time she has as she learns a new job among new people in a new land, and before I return to wander into a new employment adventure myself.
We will sit and talk and laugh and eat and drive and cry — me, I mean, always freaking crying — (as an aside interesting to perhaps only me and a few of my closest friends, I also will pay a decent penny to witness professional golf on the world’s most beautiful stage, yards off the Pacific blue and its sweeping fogs) before the time comes again for another goodbye.
And I can’t wait for every sweet second of it, for every ch-ching moment that will mean so much more to me, by untold multiples, than wheels in the driveway, a designer suit in the closet or the screened-in deck that’s been demoted down the to-do list for 20 years in favor of more urgent to-dos of younger days. Those days when “experience” is often by necessity just the commute to work or a trip to the doctor for ear drops to soothe a screaming baby.
But as years gain and days diminish, we find dollars take on a different purpose. They sustain, naturally. But they are never as worthy as when they are able to enhance the sensual thrill of being alive, for ourselves, for friends and loved ones, or for anyone who benefits from the power of their philanthropy in any form.
I am beyond grateful for the ability to blow the budget, here and perhaps there, to buy a permanent imprint on my heart.