I had been simultaneously dragging my feet and longing to buy a new computer. I needed to do it soon because our desktop officially crashed last week. It had been unofficially crashing for weeks prior and I knew it was only a matter of time before resuscitation was impossible. Each time I saw that black and white text screen I cringed. Pressed restart. Sighed when it set itself right. The poor thing is ten years old. That’s, like, at least 95 in Dell years.
As it reached old age, I began debating whether or not I would (or could) replace it. The kids get iPads from their schools, but writing a research paper is tough on an iPad. They needed something to write with, something to print from, something to play Minecraft on (c’mon, people, priorities), so I knew a purchase was justified. I’d get an upgrade and they’d get my current laptop. I have wanted a Mac for myself for a long time now, but always ended up buying something cheaper because I didn’t really need a Mac.
I always have a tough time with that word. Need. What do we need really? Not much. In fact, I was in Target this morning buying paper towels and toothpaste and contact solution and watching the numbers tick up as I added things to the basket. I passed a couple browsing in the home décor aisle, and I heard the woman say with urgent desire, “Oh, I NEED these!” I didn’t look to see what she was referring to, but I can almost guarantee you it was something ridiculous like maple leaf napkin rings or ceramic pumpkins. Both very cute, but I’m sorry. No one needs napkin rings. Now if it had been a pair of suede riding boots, I might have agreed with her. I always need suede riding boots.
But truthfully, how often do we consider what we actually need versus what we want or what we think we deserve or what we justify to ourselves as logical. In Kohls, where I went in only to pay off the entire balance of my credit card (Okay. Fine. I looked at the boots.), the woman asked me if I wanted to sign up for their new shopping rewards program. I must have given her a baffling look, because she quickly tried to explain how you get points for every dollar that you spend and I’m staring at her, thinking the entire time: This is Kohl’s. You already have a gazillion programs. How many more do you need? Why are you trying to confuse us? And what the hell are shopping reward points anyway? How do I live in a country that rewards you for buying shit you don’t need?
Whatever. Yes. Sign me up.
I didn’t buy any boots. Don’t pat me on the back or anything. They didn’t have my size. But numbers were ticking up in my head once more anyway, considering the computer, considering the coming bills, considering my lack of a pair of boots in every color, for every day of the month. What we all need sometimes is a different perspective and I work very hard at keeping mine intact. Sometimes I slip up and I buy boots. Sometimes I sit down with the bank and get actual things accomplished and that was what I did today. I met with the nice loan officer and she told me she can refinance my car for half the monthly payment I pay now. In some ways, that sucks. I don’t like debt. It’s even more ridiculous than shopping reward points. But we live in a country where college could easily cost a student a mortgage payment and a reliable car twenty-grand. For now, me and my car and school loans will have to figure out a way to get along. At least I was feeling a little better about buying the computer. The scales balanced a little bit. I was figuring things out. I didn’t get new boots, or shopping reward points, but you know what? I still felt that little jolt of euphoria that shopping sometimes gives you. That “retail therapy” boost. And in a much more permanent fix. Because figuring out my finances was something I actually needed.
Then I was on my way again and thinking about how to now tick up the numbers in my checking account. Lowering bills was good, but increasing input even better. There was a sign hanging in a local restaurant looking for servers and I’d been considering stopping in for a couple weeks. It’s a cute little brewery and I’ve eaten there a lot and it’s close enough I could walk to it. It would be a great third part-time job, except that it would require nights and weekends—the bane of a single parent’s schedule. The bane of a 38 year old’s schedule, really. How much sleep cycle abuse can one person take? The tips would be great, but the consequences on my kids (and my brain) not so much.
And then I got an email with good news.
An unexpected job offer came waltzing into my morning as if it had no idea of what was going on at the moment. Hands in its pockets, whistling a happy tune, it just decided to pop in and see if there was any chance I might be interested. It actually excused itself and said, “Sorry, is this a bad time?”
Wait? What? Get your ass back over here!
I’m reminded, yet again, that over and over, regardless to what you attribute your circumstances, regardless of what you think you deserve or don’t deserve, that more often than not we are somehow taken care of, somehow held by the universe, lifted up and far beyond what we think we can handle. Given gifts we assume were meant for someone else. It’s not really all a matter of God or serendipity; it’s a result of hard work, being open to opportunities, and a lot of positive thinking. But sometimes things seem so magical, so perfectly timed, it’s hard to not believe.
So, Momma got her first Mac laptop today. Still a hold-my-breath purchase. Still not sure if it’s needed. But I am willing to bet that the universe still has more in store for me. Something better than suede riding boots. Something more magical than I could guess.
Today, I’m willing to believe.