Dear person who will hopefully never read this,
I want you to know, I forgive you for taking my good credit and ruining it, lo those many years ago. It was really hard for a while there, when I was just starting out in the world and had to ask friends if I could sign my paychecks over to them, couldn’t get an apartment lease on my own or open a bank account. But I waited out those seven years and now almost seven more, and you’ve never apologized, and I want you to know that my heart has softened and I know why.
Those events didn’t really exist for you. Checking account? What checking account? If I ask you, you will truly not remember, and for that I am thankful. You were in survival mode, and you did what you needed to do to survive. That’s what made you a good parent, though I know your greatest shame is that you don’t think you were one. You were.
You needed the money in that account, my 17-year-old self’s life savings, and you needed more money than was in that account, so you wrote checks until you couldn’t write checks anymore, and it bought bread and cereal for a while more. I was furious, off on the other side of the country, to find that my carefully planned financial future was over before it began. But time did that thing it does, and here we are.
Now I’m 32 and I’m trying to do something really hard.
I’m not desperate, like you were, so I have the luxury of being able to plan it out rationally. But in some ways that’s harder. Desperation makes hard choices and unethical actions easy to rationalize, and easy to forget. Being an upstanding, tax-paying citizen means sometimes thinking endlessly about credit scores and calculators. Yuck.
I can’t talk about it freely yet, but it’s one of those projects, like all projects, I suppose, that sure would be easier with a nice cash infusion. Everything was just fine in my life, then I got this Big Idea. And, like Big Ideas tend to do, it’s obsessing me. So I’m in a weird place right now. Pretending everything is fine, because really it is, but behind all the fineness is the Big Idea, which is inching along and there is nothing my rush-rush self can do to make it go faster. I am, like all chefs, wildly impatient. I’m not used to waiting for things to happen. I’m used to forcing them to happen by pushing my exhausted body around my kitchen until I’ve done everything there is to do. The hardest thing in my life is the spot under the shelf with the olive oil that is impossible to clean except on my hands and knees with a scrub brush at an uncomfortable angle.
Projects that require things I can’t make happen with my own stamina are maddening. Depending on other entities is terrifying.
Last month I had a friend visit, and we were going over the project: numbers, banks, loans, plans, all that fun stuff, and suddenly I just melted down.
I’m not a melt-downer. But there I was, on the playground while her kid played catch with Jacob, sitting on the swings, kicking my legs out like a 10-year-old, crying because I might not get my way.
She, one of my oldest friends, was completely taken aback. Through my tears, I blubbered, “It’s just one of those times when it would be really nice if I had parents who could help me out a little.” She said, super kindly and gently, but not being able to suppress a little smile,
“But Lagusta, you hate those people.”
“I know. I’m proud of never having any help. I know. I know. But…I want this project to happen so much.”
And we sat and talked, and I felt better, like you do when you sit and talk with old friends.
So. My past and my future.
Here I stand, perennially at the dividing line between the two. I want to keep my politics, my lofty ideas about purity, my mostly solitary work schedule, blah blah. But I also have Big Ideas, which will either pay off exponentially, or require more changes than I’m OK with, or make my life so much harder that it’s not worth it. Big Ideas sometimes require leaping into the future faster than might be healthy, or sane, or even possible. What happens when you jump off a cliff?
I’ll tell you if I get to find out.