how I do math.
16 February 2013 § Leave a comment
This morning I had a breakfast date with my bank accounts. We don’t meet often. Sweet granola crunched into my molars, innocent cashews and cranberries whispering ‘we’re healthy’ as the sugar rushed through my veins at speed. The accounts had tea instead. Awkward silence.
“So we should talk,” we said, in unison.
“Where to start?” I asked.
“Let’s begin at zero,” the older one quipped. I checked him over. His eyes struck me as indomitable, which translated in my mind to trial and hardship. I knew the peaks and valleys to which he’d been in the fast few years: my glaciers had carved them. The walls came tearing down after that. He wore too-big clothes, like he was trying to be someone he wasn’t. Sunglasses and a beanie. What? That’s not professional. Who was he trying to impress? Me?
My own clothes were questionable. Designer jeans from Goodwill, a $50 hat from New York City bought years ago and never worn til now, a necklace pendant made of horsebone; a trinket to remind myself that the wide world is not that far away. That I never had to Stay for very long. I thought of an excited puppy, who wants to listen so bad he jumps up for more attention to fetch the next adventure. Who did I want to impress? Everyone?
I laid my hands on the table to make my case. “Look, guys, I’ve got a few important things I’m working with that are time-sensitive. I’m all about stuff happening exactly when it’s supposed to, and the time is now. What can you do for me?”
The younger of the two chipped in. “I’m coming up in the world and feeling good, my friend. What do you need?” Next to him, the gaunt old list sipped his tea.
“I’m looking for access. It helps me to feel important. Wanted. Worthy. For example, Burning Man tickets just went on sale. All my friends are doing yoga over their computer screens to get at ’em, and I had to shove that pretty little $380 ticket into a crevasse to put it out of my mind until I talked to you.” I paused. There was more, but I didn’t want to seem like all I wanted was more, more, more – though it was true. I needed to climb, to keep me sane; food, because not eating is, well, bad; I didn’t want to worry about rent anymore. Couldn’t I just get by on my pending merit of being a good person? Please?
Numbers filed, sorted, calculated, added and divided longways into my debt, on the short side of my gas tank and monthly rent, and reached out for my will to simply have Enough. They curtained me in green matrix text, offering heaven and its bliss for a price. I hit the AC button. “Don’t tempt me, mathematicians, you know I work with words. Enough is not Everything; it is efficient sufficiency. I have found the world that I desire, I simply wish to move about it freely.”
“Then I suggest,” said the elder of the two, “you replenish us with some of your voracity for life. We can help you only as much as you help yourself. There are no magic tricks in math, wordsmith. If you wish to get your Burn ticket now, you may, but at the cost of starting at absolute zero tomorrow. As in the rest of of your privileged life, the choice is yours alone.”