I asked Eb and then myself, if money were no object, what would you do all day? Resigned to the fact that money couldn’t give me any of the things I want most right now, my days would look the same. Which is weird to consider. Money can’t give me my PhD any faster, or any easier…I might quit my job but not even because I hate it but because it would give an opportunity to another student to get the incredible gift of a full scholarship. Then it struck me, if I had money I could give more…
My sister (M) would transfer to her dream school in New Orleans and I would pay for her tuition and get her the best instruments, private tutors, whatever she needed. I’d pay for all of her necessities but she would have to work a job for all her fun money.
My other sister (K) would get a college fund with the same stipulations as M. I pay for tuition and all necessities. The rest is on her. For now though, I would get her an iMac desktop and a DSLR camera. She could write all her stories and take all the photos she wanted. I’d also make sure she had the best acting, singing, and piano coaches in the city. What she chose to do with all of it would be up to her.
I would give my mom and step-dad half of whatever I had. They could do whatever they wanted with it.
I would buy my grandmother a small house. Just two bedrooms with a big kitchen and dining area and a large porch that wrapped around the house. And she would garden I’m certain. I’d make sure it had a pool too so she could do water aerobics. I think she told me she liked that.
I would give all my aunts and uncles the same amount of money: 20k. It’s enough to have fun with and enough to pay of some debt but not enough to go crazy. It’s just to say I love you.
I’d pay off the student loan debt of all my best friends.
I’d start building my house in Jamaica.
I’d book a graduation trip for next April to Paris (which I’m doing anyway)
I’d beg and plead Jennie to move out here with me and I’d get us a sweet place with a good view.
And then I’d do my research. My bank account would never be a worry for me, but I’d still want to write. The only real thing money would give me is a better view outside my window and maybe the luxury of not feeling the pressure of what’s next.
I’d leave town immediately after graduation. I’d take my family and friends down to Jamaica and show them why I love it so much. From there I’d head to Europe. And just go where the wind took me. I’d travel and eat and write and learn for the rest of the summer. And then I would come home to San Diego and figure out how to turn my dissertation into a book or two.
When I realize how little my life really changes, I realize that I am already so very wealthy. I live a life so full of richness in love and experience and joy and adventure. I couldn’t dream of another life. And money…it would just enable me to tangibly show the people I love small tokens of my gratitude and affection for them. Because above all in this life, I am so grateful.
Reflecting on writing even just that last paragraph makes me proud of who I am. I wasn’t always this person. I have been selfish. I have been entitled. I have been rude and sometimes mean. But that’s not the real me. The real me is kind and generous and loving. What I can see now is that I’ve become more of myself. I’ve grown to be more authentic. And money couldn’t have gotten me that either.
It’s a good feeling to know that the things you are, the things you treasure, and the things you covet are all things that can’t be mass produced and sold to the highest bidder. The good shit just isn’t for sale.