Money. The root of all evil, and the root of a hell of a lot of (Try saying that three times fast) good things. Well, at least the way to those things.
In some ways, money defines my life. I’ve always heard about it – How there isn’t enough, or there’s going to be even less of it for a while now, or daddy’s got a job so he’ll have more of it from now on (and yay because that means ice-cream) – and since I was ten or so, I’ve been learning how to handle it. I’m still learning.
At first, the tricky thing was to figure out what to do with it.
My parents gave me everything I needed – food, a home (well, two actually) sweets and movie night every Friday. Plus a shitload of gifts twice a year.
This money that I had, it was supposed to be for extra things. Extra fun. Which to me seemed to mean CD’s, but even more so, saving. Because who doesn’t love a big wad of cash to play with?
After a while, saving was replaced with spending. I grew up, started going to the movies, the local community youth centre (They had some really kick ass smoothies), cafés. I found places to put my money, and when the amount of money grew, so did the number of places to put them. I didn’t spend more money than I had, but I often spend them faster than I should, leaving those days at the end of the month where I had to either borrow from friends, mooch from friends or just live without that extra piece of chocolate.
Luckily, though a lot of my habits changed, some remained the same.
I never used birthday or Christmas money when I got them. I (almost) never bought CD’s, chocolate, smoothies, cinema tickets, or anything in that category of instant gratification, with money I received as a gift (You might wonder what my montly allowance was, if not a gift, and I might answer that it was my salary as an Awesome daughter). I saved. Just like good old times.
When my grandmother won the lottery, and shared some of that money with her relatives, I used money to buy a bass guitar, and clothes.
When I was sixteen, I used my saved money (from Christmases and birthdays, and lend leftovers those rare months when I didn’t spend all of my money) to finance a small but, I dare say, not insignificant part of my language travel to Oxford. And that’s where it started. The reason I absolutely love saving money.
I’ve always likes travelling. My mum’s 30th and my 10th birthday were celebrated in Rome, where I did complain about ants when we had lunch opposite the Colosseum, but also stood gaping at the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica and marvelled at the amount of Christian skulls in the catacombs.
The next year, she took me on her (art) school trip to Venice, where I discovered Italian ice-cream and went to the Art Biennale for five minutes or so – before I got a bad stomach ache and we had to leave.
I went to Hamburg, where there were fancy hotels and desperate beggars –
A piece of luxury and a piece of reality for the lady. And then, I went to Paris, where I decided I wanted to be a photographer (Something I still dream of, so there’s a life changer for you).
But, like I said, the reason for my constant saving, the spark that set my love for travelling on fire, is the first trip I ever made without my family.
For three weeks I lived in Oxford, I got to know Oxford, and I got to know myself. It’s a cliché, and it’s absolutely true.
Every year since (Three summers, that is) I’ve returned. I’ve saved and planned, gone and come back slightly more alive. I’ve had some real adventures in both Oxford and London. Made a lot of mistakes and enjoyed myself more than I thought possible. Because I looove being far from home, and I love returning.
This is where I have to make a, to me, very painful statement:
None of this would have been possible without money.
I like the idea of living on little, and living the dream anyway. I really do.
But one of the greatest sources of happiness in my life is one that has to be financed. Of course, I could always go to India and live cheap, or try to get a job somewhere (Which I actually plan to do)… But the truth is, I want the other kind of travelling. The one where you don’t have to do anything you don’t like, or worry about how you’re going to afford this or that. You save, you live, and then you go back to saving. And for at least a week every year, all the world’s a stage for your adventure.
Me, greedy gal of the west, goes to another part of the greedy west to have a little adventure – It’s a bit messy if you look too closely at it. But then you could also compare it to other travellers of the rich west, and find me pretty simple in my taste. And after all, in my bubble of developed countries where everyone can afford to eat, I’m poor. As in just below or just above the breadline.
In my bubble, the saving and planning that I do might even be something to admire. And definitely not a cardinal sin.
Which is where I end this wall of text and train of thought.
I’ll never climb higher than to middle class, and I’ll never be one to buy a new cell phone each year. In my world, second hand is the way to shop, and the way to eat is one that doesn’t waste tons of energy bringing up livestock while millions starve. I am really good at being a half-ass consumer. So what if I like to travel a couple of times a year. Right?