I’m a rich man. Of course I’m broke.
“You’ll have to learn to be better with your money,” my brother Wes told me when I was a boy.
I spent everything I earned – paper boy, bottle collector, lip balm salesman, 8, 9, 10, 11… then I left.
On the farm at 13 years old I earned fifteen bucks a month – spent all of that too.
By the time I returned to the city at sixteen to once again live with my family I was a high school dropout. I worked bowling alleys evenings for the beer drinking bowling league guys – truck drivers, butchers, construction workers, after duty cops. Tips were good if you were fast. Blew through maybe twenty bucks a week.
Today I’m in Northern California on a chilled foggy morning overlooking the Pacific Ocean. My eleven year old daughter and I – sleeping in the back of my Honda Element, eating like royalty, spending everything we have.
When I was seventeen I worked the textile factories of north Jersey. Good money for a boy. Cars and dates took all of it even though I neither drank, nor smoked, nor partied really.
By nineteen I had been warmly persuaded to ‘go back to school’ which I did my purpose being to replicate the kind pastor who touched my shoulder one warm June night and softly said “you’re better that this. Go back to school.”
So I did.
I had no money when I earned money and had no money now. No money for school. I borrowed, worked, married, lived broke. Graduate school followed as did more loans and more work and of course children came. I became what I worked so hard for – a professional. Good money. Spent it all happily, foolishly, mindlessly, joyfully.
Here now today with my daughter, breakfast on credit cards. Who cares?
There’s always a voice of reason of course. We have a house payment, car payment, school for my daughter payment and payments for lessons, trips and other necessary luxuries.
My wife, by any account a good woman, is also a school junkie and her post, post graduate studies cost a lot.
Our richness doesn’t seem to be related to crafty investments or frugal living.
This morning as the fog lays low on the mountains of Big Sur and we sip hot chocolate from steaming mugs gazing meditatively out over the blue black Pacific Ocean, my daughter on the very cusp of womanhood – fully there, fully not – I feel wiser, even, miracle of miracles, loving. My life is overflowing, a basket bulging with promises, new projects, family delights – rich.
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