The pointer on the computer screen hovered over the word “Submit”. Ninety dollars seemed like a lot of money. When I had thought of it as $30 per month for three months, it hadn’t seemed so bad. I thought I’d be billed each month, but instead I had to pay one lump sum up front. Before I could think about it for even another fraction of a second, something in me took over, my finger clicked the left-hand button on the mouse and the money was spent.
I had briefly tried online dating the previous fall. I forced myself to go on a single date and then erased my profile with a relived sigh the second the date was over. The whole thing had made me squeamish. I disliked having to admit I was looking for someone. I found it humiliating posting a picture with a shallow summary of myself online and doing the awkward two-step of getting to know a complete stranger virtually. But it was now spring and the memory of the previous experience had faded. The night before, I’d been out with some friends, mostly single women. Online dating had come up and talking about it with them, it seemed okay, normal, the thing people do these days. I found myself getting up that morning and researching online dating sites. The site I tried in the fall was free, but this time, I decided to give this thing a serious try, and that meant paying money for a site where you are matched with others using a personality profile. A site where everyone is supposedly looking for long-term, committed relationships. It meant spending ninety dollars. Not an enormous sum, but just enough to hurt a little bit. It was money that could be spent on a pair of new shoes, or a couple nice new shirts. And I might spend three months going for coffee with strangers with nothing to show for it. Still, I might meet the love of my life, and wouldn’t that be worth it? I tried not to listen to the caustic voice in my head whispering I was a chump as I answered a series of questions that eventually classified me as a “negotiator” personality type and posted my profile.
The first email I got was surprisingly well-written and from someone who seemed to share my interests. Unlike my previous experience, I actually enjoyed emailing back and forth with this guy, he seemed like someone I’d like talking to if I met him at a party. These first, tentative emails led to a tentative afternoon coffee date that lasted three hours. Coffee turned into a movie and dinner, then day-long hikes and excursions to the beach. Against all odds, shared common interests with a stranger met in a virtual space turned into true shared connection and then into a beautiful, tender, blooming love. We were married a year later in a tiny ceremony, holding hands on a beach. I can say unequivocally, without a doubt in my mind, that the ninety dollars I paid that day was hands-down, the best money I have ever spent.
In seeing everyone’s responses to our November edition of “Join the Conversation”, I agree with Bitter en Zoet when she said, it’s “not so much about what money buys you initially, but rather, what it affords you in the greater scheme of life”. Most of us note this; for Mit Schlag, some of the best money spent is for “time with friends around food and wine”. For La Zuccheria, some of her favourite spending represents the sanity she finds in paying rent money to stay in a city for the winter. For me, that ninety dollars was a catalyst that changed my life irrevocably and enriched it immeasurably. Did money buy me happiness? No, certainly not, I believe we make that ourselves, but money seems to provide a vehicle for happy experiences; whether it’s a special trip to spend time with family or friends, or the experience of wearing a shirt we love until it’s threadbare.
Another theme that came up in our responses was security. For some of us, money can represent that as well. We feel safe when we have money in the bank, and it can come in handy. Some of us are better at saving than others it seems, like the Craves Adventurer who had the foresight to start saving for retirement at the age of twenty-five! I doff my hat to you.
And finally, the best money seems to be just a little bit more than we’d normally spend, and we usually spend it on something we wouldn’t allow ourselves every day. Not one of us said that “grocery money” was the best we ever spent, or “rent”, though seen prosaically, this probably is the best money we spend. No, we delight in the treats, in those rare moments when we throw away our fear and say “yes” to something extraordinary. And so my friends, as we enter this shiny new year, let us keep this in mind. May we all recognize when those extraordinary things cross our paths and rejoice in the experiences that result!
Stay tuned! The question for our January Salon and our second Mother Sugar giveaway will be posted later this week!