Monday, March 20, 2006

ROAD TRIP: BACK HOME

"L" Back Home Again


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Returned home this evening after a long but pleasant drive from Winchester, VA where we spent the night in a Wal-Mart’s parking lot. Noisy, windy and wintery, we left springtime several hundred miles behind us.

Leon, the Dog and I were ready to be back: the Dog, visibly delighted to be in his own backyard, us, feeling grateful for our safe trip and a home to come back to.

(Oh, how I hate to end a sentence with a preposition. Which reminds me of a joke: Two women who didn’t know one another were seated side by side on a plane. The more outgoing lady decided to start a conversation and, turning to the other woman asked, “so, where y’all from?” The other woman replied without parting her clenched teeth: “Where I come from, we do not end a sentence with a preposition.” The first lady thought for a moment, then asked with all her Southern friendliness and charm, “So, where y’all from, bitch?” So forgive me if I end a sentence with a preposition from time to time.)

Thursday, March 17, 2006 to Sunday, March 19, 2006

Saint Patrick’s Day and Friday were spent going through a month’s worth of mail, restocking the fridge and cupboards which we cleaned out the day we took off on our jaunt, paying bills, taking care of personal business like health insurance options and looking at want ads. Feeling calmer and more confident than I would have expected. At this stage in my life I am less concerned than ever about a “career”, a concept I never quite mastered. Health insurance is a joke. Retirement is a fantasy. And I don't have children to become highly educated and wealthy who can support me in my old age (or at least give me a room in their McMansion).

We question the wisdom of taking a long road trip when we can least afford it. It has something to do with my theory of "pleasures of the lower classes". Those who can least afford to: smoke, drink, do drugs, subscribe to cable TV, have their nails done, eat junk food, do so because of the immediate gratification those things provide. If you have a buck, spend it on something that provides you pleasure now, because if you don't, someone will come along and either steal your buck or demand payment for what you owe them. Save your meager wages and you're screwed. Someone else will get their hands on it and you'll be left with nothing. If you spend it as soon as you get it, at least you've had the satisfaction of the temporary pleasure it provided.

As members of the lower middle classes we are now in a similar situation: there is no possible way we can ever save enough for retirement. (I did one of those on-line calculations that revealed that if I retire at 68 and work part time, my savings and Social Security along with a part-time wage will put me about $13,800 in the red for each year I remain living, or more as the cost of living increases.) So the conventional wisdom about working and saving begins to break down...there is some impetus to enjoy the pleasures of the moment - for us, travel and leisure, rather than entertain the possibility that a single major illness will wipe out our entire "nest egg" in a matter of weeks. Eggs are fragile.

Saturday we had friends over for hiking, drinks, and dinner (corned beef and cabbage which needs no recipe) and to thank them for looking after our house while we were away.

Today, Sunday, we're off to a Lambda Car Club meeting.

2 comments:

Squrrl said...

I just wandered in here on the "next blog" button, and I would like to say, I think that's one of the more sensitive and honest descriptions of living with marginal finances I've ever heard. And, of course, depressing. Sigh...

Squrrl said...

Actually, I've gone through and read a lot of your posts now, and I really enjoyed all of your thoughts. I'll be checking back in in the future. Good luck with everything.

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