By Liz Petrone
When we were on vacation in the Cape a few weeks ago we took the family out for our only early dinner in a the cute little town near where we were staying. “Early” because my moral compass tells me people should not have to be subjected to us while they are on vacation. “Only” because I value my sanity and my marriage and taking four children to a restaurant does little to help either one, but also only for another reason.
Because it’s expensive.
Anyway there but for the grace of God we survived said meal and did minimal damage to the establishment and had already walked a few blocks back towards the car when I realized I’d left my water bottle. I ran back alone, grabbed it, and then on a whim ducked into the clothing boutique next door to quick check out the cutest little top they had hanging in the window.
It was cold in there, the AC blasting, and it felt good to come in out of the heat. Plus it smelled good, like linen and soap and what I can only imagine was old money. I wandered around a little, feeling eyes on me, until I found the top from the window. It was a tank, a camisole really, made of the kind of material that felt like nothing at all between my fingers. I couldn’t stop touching it. And then I saw the tag.
I dropped it like it was hot. The shirt, that is. I did not start dancing, unless you count slowly backing out of there with my hands held up lest I break something expensive as dancing. $400 is a car payment for us. More than two of those early dinners out. A significant dent in my mortgage. Groceries to feed us for almost two weeks. Shoes for the kids to wear when school starts.
As I walked back to where my family was waiting for me in our car that wasn’t new at any point in this decade, I felt it.
For just a second, that green yucky temptress wove her way through and around my ankles, threatening to creep up, making me stumble. What would it be like, I wondered, to be able to just buy it? To have so little worries about money or responsibility that dropping that much money on what was essentially an undergarment – albeit a very lovely one – was a viable and real option?
It’s crazy how fast that can happen, isn’t it? How quickly we can turn tables from “this vacation is such a blessing,” to “but why not me?” How easily we can imagine ourselves in a place that just by virtue of that small ability – to buy more, to have more, maybe to BE more – would be so much better in every way than where we are right now?