Post 50.

I suppose that what worries me is how much I make and how little it buys. It makes me wonder how anyone else out there does it. I worry about the costs of having two children instead of one and marvel at those people who have three or four without seeming to grow a gray hair over it. I worry about where my family will end up living given where we can afford to buy, which is virtually nowhere. I worry about what might happen the day something happens and my musician husband or I alone have to manage. I guess I wonder how come others don’t worry too. But then I read the papers and it’s obvious that many do.

In the last few years, the cost of food has inflated from anywhere between 10% and 50% depending on whether you are talking about fish, vegetables, fruit or chicken, and my salary has stayed the same. My new found approach to getting my act together about tenure, really since Ziya, is also about moving up in payscale. Housing went from possible to not. I’m willing to work hard to earn more, and now I feel I really have to.

I live frugally as it is, and have a sneaking suspicion that both those more wealthy and more poor than me invest more than I do in things from looks to drinks, phones to cars, nailpolish to fete tickets. I’ve seen people who earn far less than me insist on drinking Johnny Walker and walk around with $1700 phones. I’m not sure that I can do much different in the basic living department short of becoming a monk or a mountaineering hermit, and neither can Stone. We both indulge in extra things sometimes, but not much. We are two hard-working, carefully-spending people who still barely meet our financial goals. We make more money than many, but are still likely to not be able to get – or afford – a mortgage. Ironic huh?

I used to think I’d inherit this beautiful house where we live, then I grew up a bit and recognised I’d have to earn it like everything else. Everyday we think about how little we can afford it and wonder where we will go. I don’t have the benefit of living at home and having parental support, that pendulum has shifted now as it does for us all at some time and its now my responsibility to provide as much as I can. Then there is Ziya who probably won’t forgive me if I invoice her in 18 years for something that will probably add up to close to a million dollar bill. For all I know, she’ll still be at home living off of the groceries we buy and she’ll arch her eyebrow at my invoice and go off laughing while eating the lunch I’m still lovingly making for her.

Sometimes I wonder if my parents worried the same way, though surely they did even if I never really saw it then. But, thinking again, I was always aware of my mom as a single mother and I always worried about money. She was a top dresser, but somehow I would refuse to shop and become unbearable in response to my sense of the limits of her earnings. To this day, I don’t know how people spend money on shoes, belts, make up and the works, and not worry about their spending priorities. My dad and mom, for all the poverty they both grew up with, liked to spend on things they liked to spend on. My mom liked to look good and she did it well. My dad bought cars and to this day drives a gold benz. I don’t blame them, I didn’t grow up poor and didn’t do what they did to escape, and I don’t know what dreams they had and earned.

Most times I fantasize about winning the lottery. I know exactly what amounts I’ll need in capital for our parents to live off the interest, I know exactly how much Ziya needs and what age she should get it in order to live as worry-free as a trustafarian. I know exactly how much we’d save, spend and give away. Of course, because I hate losing hard-earned money, even small amounts, I don’t play the lottery. Another irony.

Sometimes I wonder if its worth it to work as hard as I do. It would be so much easier to relax and lime more, to not be so serious about my job, to live with letting so much more slide, to just be mediocre and happy if necessary, to smoke weed and service my husband and, you know, chillax, but I can’t. Somewhere inside I’m banking on the hope that if I work hard enough for what I want, I’ll get it. These days I’m focused on the challenge of getting a house. Life is unpredictable and complex though, and you never know what you will be yours at the end and what was supposed to be yours at the end.

I don’t know how my parents did it – and gave me all I had. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it – but I want to do the same for Ziya. Times like this, when I wonder about how we will ever manage, and whether our dreams are unrealistic, I can only shake my head at how desperate it must be for so many other women, mothers and workers out there. This adult stuff can be really tough.

Advertisements