After a year of living like monks, we were ready for our month-long, free-for-all, Brewster’s Millions spending spree.
Or were we?
As soon as March 1 arrived, we pulled the trigger on a couple of Dahon folding seven-speeds, which are arguably the most adorable, most functional bikes on earth. No regrets there.
We gleefully filled our cart at The Bottle Shop with single-malt whiskey, absinthe, and Richland Rum to share with friends.
We stocked up on practical things, boring things that sounded dreamy after a year of doing without or using their torn and busted brethren: sheets, blinds, a laptop battery, socks, work shoes, jeans, paring knives, even a commercial-grade food processor that will allow Brad to mix several batches of bread dough at once.
But then something strange happened. Shopping got old. Fast. It became a chore, recycling the packaging, taking old stuff to the mission to make way for the new, researching the best bang for the buck.
To further complicate matters, about that time I was diagnosed with an uncooperative, softball-sized abdominal mass, lovingly nicknamed the Death Star, whose removal would require major surgery in early April.
Did I want to spend my last couple of mobile weeks and possibly my last weeks before chemo* dealing with stuff?
Yeah, y’all know how this story ends.
Even though we excitedly kept a list all last year of goodies to be purchased, we lost interest and couldn’t be bothered.
Instead, we drank cappuccino with abandon. We ate dinner out with friends every chance we got. We took a day trip to the Kolomoki Indian Mounds. Another to Auburn for a farm-to-table brunch at Acre and a walk through the Davis Arboretum. Yet another to Plains to hear President Jimmy Carter speak.
On the last day of the month, we stumbled into an offer that was too good to refuse, so we splurged on one final acquisition we’d been dreaming of for four years: a zero-emission, petroleum-free electric car that I will eventually stop hugging. It felt better to us to use the last of our allotment on a single purchase that will shape our lives for years instead of blowing it on lots of insignificant trifles.
The Death Star was a brilliant reminder that, at the end of the day, the greater regret will be the “productive” hours of shopping and bargain-hunting, not the idle time spent exploring the world or watching it go by with the people you love.
All in all, I’d call Brewster’s Millions a success. We used our money to devour as much life as we could in a month — ensuring that we were the consumer, not the consumed. And now we’re more than ready to get back to our tight budget, diverting extra money into finishing up the krakhaus by the end of 2017. Thanks to everything we learned last year, sacrificing for a purpose doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice anymore.
*Grateful that chemo wasn’t in the cards, as the pathology report showed the mass was benign. And my kickass doctor successfully performed this procedure on the Death Star: