After more than a month of no payments, I finally received a deposit onto my state disability debit card. (I’ve taken to calling it my cancer card, as in, “Honey, let’s let the cancer card take care of dinner tonight.”) One of the first things I did upon noticing this belated windfall was make an appointment at the local tattoo parlor for a small bracelet tattoo.
I’ve been wanting a tattoo on my hand/wrist for quite a while, but it’s never seemed like the right time. Getting this tattoo is partly a result of my 80 year old self getting loaded off of tequila shots and screaming “Let’s Party!” at the top of her lungs. (Figuratively, people, figuratively.) But I’m off the pazopanib (which slows healing) for a while, and there’s money burning a hole in my pocket.
I haven’t always made the best financial decisions, but I’ve generally tried to do the right thing financially. The responsible thing. The 45 year old me thing. Seven years ago we dug ourselves out of $100,000 of debt (from school, cars, a bit of credit card debt, and some of those not the best financial decisions), and we have tried to keep in the black since then. We save for retirement. We pay cash. We’ve put off certain luxuries for later. Always later.
But now that we’re faced with the prospect that later might be sooner, some of my feelings about money have changed. And, again, the 45 and 80 year olds in me are duking it out. Do we pull money out of the house to finance a trip to Iceland? – Something that once seemed frivolous, but now seems more reasonably like a family bonding experience and adventure. How do we balance saving for retirement and the kids’ college needs, which were going to be partly funded by having me go back to work full time, with paying for the things, the experiences, we want to share with our kids now.
As interesting, fun or exciting as they might be, I still see these possible experiences in the same light as presents showered upon a child by their absentee parent after a divorce. Something to assuage the parent’s guilt, but which never quite makes up for the loss the child feels. A consolation prize.
And yet, what else can I give them but time with me now?
Not that a tattoo is time with me, or even something that my kids will find meaningful or at all related to them. Because, of course, this for me, about me, only me. My consolation prize for having to deal with cancer, the annoying side effects that require I stop my meds, and having to change my entire view of what the rest of my life will be.
And maybe it’s the prize I get for toiling through the emotional weeds, for reaching a bit of emotional solid ground, where I’ll be able to re-plan our life and our finances with all this new information.
Or maybe it’s just pretty and I wanted it.