I survived. The year gave out freedom and held on to my breath. Although I planned for twelve months of unemployment and budgeted for even longer, job searches are unpredictable. Towards the end, I conserved and did without. Push off dental appointments. Enroll in California’s healthcare for the unemployed. Cook most of my meals. Cancel subscriptions. Keep maintaining the seventeen-year old car, the twelve-year old camera, and the seven-year old laptop. Avoid big purchases.
Yet I did it! I wanted a year, I wanted to drive across the country, I wanted to build large art projects – the biggest project of them all was myself. I got away with “it.” Did I fool a system that equates work with suffering and freedom with poverty? I do realize that I am lucky and privileged.
With a job offer, I start to breathe again. Although I have yet to earn a paycheck or even start work, the wallet seems fuller. I consider luxuries again. I’ll visit the dentist, perhaps see my old chiropractor. I can eat in a restaurant.
I do want to remember how to live small and live well, as I am not what I own. On my trip to Death Valley, as I past by the enormous and expensive RV’s and pick-up trucks, I realized in comparison that I am not tied down to things.
My parents continue to amass dollars. They may believe that life’s final score is the cash amount at the end of the game. Let’s change that goal and spend some while I have some and save even more.