abundance · change · debt · family · self-support

Wanted: Nice Things

There is a Tarot card, a Pentacle, can’t remember which one,
that depicts a gentleman standing with two figures crouched on either side of
him. To one of these figures, he’s handing gold coins, to the other, nothing.
One interpretation in my book on the cards is to see which one of these two
crouching figures we identify with: do we think we’re the one who gets or the
one who gets passed over? But lately, I’ve been looking at the third figure in
the card: the one who has enough, that he gets to choose where he gives it.
A woman once told me that I needed to start “identifying
with the ‘haves’ instead of with the ‘have-nots.’” I didn’t understand what she
was saying, and our relationship as mentor and mentee didn’t last very long.
But over the past year, several months, I’ve been beginning to absorb and even
adopt that idea.
I earn what I earned last year; in fact, it’s the same as I was
paid 6 years ago and far less than I was paid 4 years ago. But I said it to some friends yesterday, “My income has not
changed, but I feel more abundant.” You can stop reading if that makes you mad,
or vomit in your mouth, or roll your eyes – but if you’ve read me before, you
know I say plenty of sweeping statements you may not roll with!
But, the statement feels true, today. Yesterday, I went to a
stand-up comedy show at Cobb’s Comedy in S.F. I’d never been to see live comedy
before, and I loved the comics who were performing. My coworker mentioned that
the event was happening, and within minutes, I had a ticket. I bought myself a
I bought a car I actually can afford payments on; I’m
planning a trip to the North Carolina shore with my mom and our two cousins
this summer; I’m saving for the trip my mom and I are taking to Paris next
That I can even conceive of these things, these trips, these
“haves” is astonishing to me.
When my current mentor told me in the early months of last
year that she saw me having my own car, that I would need one, that I had to
get to band practice, I thought she was bananas – wishful thinking; for you not
for me; there’s no way I can have…”nice things,” is the end of that sentence.
“There is no way I can have nice things.” Sound familiar? To
me it does.
But she said it was true, and though I didn’t believe it AT
ALL, I trusted her.
To drive my car now isn’t a sign to me of affluence or
status, it’s a symbol of doing what I’ve imagined impossible for me – of
attaining things that I had previously imagined, no, believed myself incapable of having, doing, being.
But, my income did not change. I have 80 thousand dollars in
student loan debt, 4 grand in back rent from when I was sick and not working,
and a few outstanding others. And yet….. here’s the joy part – I’m still having
fun. I’m still enjoying my life.
I didn’t think that was allowed, or possible. If you have debt,
you aren’t allowed to enjoy life. If you have debt, you can’t afford to buy
comedy tickets, or the pedicure I shared with my friend this week, or acting
classes at an actual acting school. If you have debt, you should sit in the
dark under a blanket and wait for your soul to eat itself.
But it sounds true,
doesn’t it? It did to me.
I have payment plans for all of the above debts, and I have
no idea how I’ll pay it all off. But I am no longer willing to deny myself nice
things under a lash of shame and punishment and longing.
To watch this shift within me, the shift from No f*cking
to maybe, even just maybe, has been radical. I really didn’t
believe my friend when she said about the car, and now it exists, in my hands,
I drive it, it works, it’s not a jalopy, it runs, it’s safe.
If this can happen around that, surely the same shift can
apply elsewhere. Hence the cousin reunion; hence the Paris trip (though really,
it’s just my way to get to Barcelona, where I really want to go!). Actually,
the Paris trip is way more than that, to me. It’s to be with my mom, assuming
“all works out,” and I have to tell you how very much more aware, and…
frightened… sort of, I am of the limited time she and I have left together.
She’s not old, she’s 65, but there are only a few more years
of her and I being able to run around and do things together.
And part of my “Yes”ness shift is trying to believe that I
can spend time with her without actually moving back there. That I was able to fly home to New York over Christmas, that I’ll be able to do it again this summer.
Because here’s my other landing realization: I want to stay
in California.
The agony this decision has caused me has been massive.
Particularly because I want to be with my mom, and my brother, and his
girlfriend, and their probably-to-be-had kids, and my best friend and her new
baby and watch all of them, all of us, grow up. I want to be there and witness
it. I don’t want to parachute in every year and see that things are so
different, and only have limited time to run around, and inject all the joy and
events and activity we can into a few days. It’s horrible living so far from
people who feed your soul.
And yet.
Coming home, coming back to the Bay, after that trip, taking
the train out of SFO, and seeing the green green landscape—who could leave this
Compost versus Styrofoam. Mild weather versus Polar
California versus New York is Me versus My family and
So, what about the abundant thinking, what about the shift
in doing and being able to do that which I’d previously thought impossible?
Well, my “you will have a car” mentor asks me if it wouldn’t be possible that I
would earn enough to be able to get home twice a year. Radical thinking, I
And although it is viciously hard for me to stand in my
decision to stay in California, and I may waffle and weave and dodge and balk over it, what I can do
in the meantime, until I actually allow myself permission to be where I love,
is to make those occasional plans to visit–because I can afford to identify with
the haves. And haves go on vacation.

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