I lost $40. I didn’t even have the fun of sticking it into a slot machine and pulling the handle. I got out of the car at Walgreens with the money tucked into a pocket, and by the time I got back to the car, the money had disappeared. I called Hal to confess. I called my sister. I would have called my ecclesiastical leader, but restrained myself. I felt sick. Still feel sick.
I have money issues. Even when I save for a purpose, I have a deuce of a time letting the money go. I have that nagging thought, “What if I need it for something else? What if the world ends and that money is the only thing keeping my kids from starving?”
Next part of the story: for the past 4 years, I’ve been studying cameras. I used to have a lovely Nikon, but it died (apparently, beaches have sand and sand gets into cameras where it clogs the inner workings and causes a slow, grinding death for the apparatus if the person who owns the camera is not very diligent about servicing the camera. Which I’m not because that costs money.) Anyway, jumping to the end, I saved and saved and shopped prices and plans and finally bought a Canon EOS 50D. Go ahead, envy me. I’m waiting for Best Buy to ship it to my nervous little hands—this camera may be more than I can handle. But more than my concern about having to figure out aperture and ISO speed again, I spent 24 hours thinking that I was, literally, going to throw up. I couldn’t focus, I broke several traffic laws, and I had to sit down suddenly numerous times. Because the camera, which is the bucking bronco of the semi-professional photography world, comes at the same price as a bucking bronco. But you can’t eat it if the world collapses. And I didn’t buy it for my children, although they certainly will be the center of my lens more than they want. I didn’t buy it to improve the comfort or beauty of my home, although I hope the prints turn out well enough for that. I bought it because I wanted it. Just for me. For my hobby because I’m a bored middle-class suburban soccer mom who doesn’t drink and who doesn’t get her nails done. And I’m still not convinced I should keep Pandora’s Box. I remind myself that Best Buy has a great return policy, that I can sell it on Ebay, that if the world ends, I can take pictures of the destruction and be the next Dorothea Lange or Arthur Rothstein.
I have the idea that maybe with a bit more investment (lights, a better lens, a few backdrops) I can recoup what I’ve spent. But spending more to make more is the side of capitalism that my puritan/pioneer/frugal-divorced-parent-who-refuses-aid heritage balks at. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. It’s hard to be simultaneously a greedy capitalist pig and a hard-core, string-saving woman of the brutal West.