Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Light at the End of Our Tunnel

Being poor can really suck. For the last few years, we have been working to pay off credit accounts, fearful of layoff, and frankly extra money for the simplest of things has not been there for us. As payments on the bills have gone down, we still needed to hold onto anything extra, just in case.

Starting in September, my social security begins. It will supplement my pension and take a huge burden off both of us. Let me describe just what that means. Ordinarily we stayed home, watching a movie on television. Perhaps a trip to a local park, but careful on the gas usage. Our meals were things that could be made to stretch the food dollar. Just recently we went to a movie. It was the first one we had attended in years. Next month we are going to Renaissance Fair. We could not afford it before and both of us are giddy by the prospect of going. Even before the first check has arrived, there is a lightness in our step and a discernible shift in our attitudes. In some ways this apartment had become like a prison to us. Ironic that it will be only our second Renfest together. We will go in September, exactly ten years since we attended our first. It was only our second date, and by the end of the day, we knew we were going to be a couple for the rest of our lives.

Now much of the new income is spoken for. A sizable piece goes to paying off the remaining credit card bills. A good hunk goes into savings. But there is some allocated for good old fashioned play. Is it an accident that both of us are dieting now? I'm not sure but what there is a correlation. We will need energy to get about and live an active lifestyle again. Just today we were laughing and chattering back and forth in a way that we really haven't for awhile.

As I reflect on our experience, I think of how fortunate we are. She had a job and I have a pension. I supply the health care through my retirement for both of us. What of those who are losing their homes, their jobs, their insurance? How about those souls out on the streets homeless? By the standards of much of the world, we are quite wealthy, victim as with many of pursuing credit as a means of instant gratification. Yet the gratification we are feeling now is the liberation from those "corporate ties." If the American economy depends on credit, I'm afraid I'll have to let them down. I was ready to make this journey years ago. Now Robin is on board too.

Of course there is always the chance she could get laid off. Then it would be tight for us again. But now we have begun to build resources to weather that possibility.

So my word for today is gratitude. Perhaps hope is another. Today, life is good, and I am smiling.

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