A good friend once told me, “If you are going to spend money on an experience, then that is money well spent.”
At the time, I was debating whether or not to buy a $500 ticket to the Firefly Music Festival, in Dover, Delaware. I had never spent that much money before and was sick to my stomach at the thought.
I was staying with a friend over the summer and she and her friends were all planning to go. It was the beginning of the summer and I had a good job for the season, so I bit the big one. For the whole five days of the festival we were drunk and singing. It was hot and sandy. We chaffed until we bled, and our ankles swelled over our shoes, but it was the best week of my life and the best money I had ever spent.
Anyway, I thought of this when I was debating, yet again, whether or not to spend my money.
I have never had a lot of money. My mom makes less than $20,000 a year. I work four jobs. My mom works two. Spending money is just not in the cards.
But the squad (Alex, my partner, and his house mates, Tya and Forrest, plus our friend Tyler) wanted to go to the Boston Aquarium as a last ‘hoorah’ before our very last college semester began.
I had $63.78 in my bank account.
I had a car payment due that I couldn’t afford.
I had credit card payments that I couldn’t afford
There was just no way. I smiled through the pain of knowing I couldn’t go, and listened as they talked about how excited they were for the squad day.
This wasn’t my first time saying ‘no’ to outings because I had no money. Actually, I do it all the time. I make an excuse, or tell everyone I am going and then “get sick” and back out at the last second. It’s embarrassing to admit, but what else am I supposed to do?
But this was going to be our last experience together as a squad and as a family. I didn’t want to be left out because 1. the aquarium is awesome and I haven’t been since I was eight. 2. when will I get another opportunity like this?
My bank account went down to $33.73
I bought $10 in gas, which brought my account down to $23.73, and I had to live on this for a week.
$23.73 for a whole week of food, gas and for/if there was an emergency.
It was a stupid decision and irresponsible in every sense. But you know what? I got to touch a stingray.
The whole day I was staring like a little girl at the tank, as if I was seeing the world for the first time.
I got on my knees and put my face up to tanks of seahorses. I cringed as two boa constrictors battled each other. I watch massive sea turtles meander through the tank and bob it’s head at the surface. We talked to penguins and played with starfish.
I got so lost in my own childish excitement, memorized by the blue lights and rainbow coral, that Alex often had to come find me because the squad kept moving along while I was still trying to get the fish’s attention.
We even got to watch a 3D film on the biggest IMAX screen in New England, so big that it can fit three whales. As we put the glasses on and the lights went out, I looked down the line of my friends all stuffing popcorn into their mouth and bouncing for the movie to start, I knew that this was worth the struggle.