Nine years ago, I was living paycheck to paycheck in a fancy Brentwood apartment complex with a nice gym, tennis courts and a sparkling swimming pool. Our apartment was typical of West Los Angeles; ample living room with a counter separating it from the kitchen, a bedroom on each side of the living room, two bathrooms, cottage cheese ceilings, itchy beige rugs and a small balcony with sliding doors outside the living room. Ours was not remodeled like the newer units and anything visible was mostly his; Star Wars posters and memorabilia were the main source of decoration with some musical instruments neither one of us played sprinkled in for variety. My books or anything that was mine was relegated to the empty bedroom/office space.
I was the only one who paid rent because I was the only one who worked. My ex thought he was going to be a rock star and refused to get a job because it would interfere with whatever it was he did during the day.
My rent then was more than my mortgage is now, granted, I live in Long Beach, hood adjacent by about four houses but it’s affordable and I get a tax break from Uncle Sam. Unlike my ex, Matt has a good job and prefers to live within or below our means and that suits me just fine. Now, I get to live well, keep money in the bank and save for important purchases or medical treatments not covered by insurance.
I like to shop, preferably on my iPad from the comfort of my Pottery Barn sofa. It was one of the things that kept me temporarily sane during my battle with infertility.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve lusted after a 6 piece, Caribbean Blue, cast iron, LeCreuset cookware set. You can get it at the outlet for around $600 instead of the $900 it costs for the more popular colors.
During the first five Christmases of my marriage, I took selfies with the pile of money I got from my bosses and parents. I arranged the bills in the shape of a hand held folding fan and sent the photos of me and my Benjamins to my sisters so one of them can ask if this is the year I’m going to bite the bullet and buy my cookware set.
Every Christmas I drove to the outlet where I stood outside the store looking through the window, salivating over cookware like Holly Golightly outside of Tiffany’s. It caused me great anxiety that I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money on something I’ve wanted so badly. I imagined the roasts and braises I was going to make and hoped I could persuade myself to make the purchase but I always walked away before the impulse to buy it kicked in.
I know how to spend money so I don’t understand why I can’t bring myself to buy the cookware. Why am I so fickle when it comes to my pots and pans? Is it that now that I can afford it, I don’t have the need to own it? If that’s the case, why do I drive to the outlet every year expecting to make the purchase?
At first, it was because I had spent too much trying to get pregnant, then I got pregnant and it was about saving for the baby. Now the baby is here and I still want it but I would be guilty for spending so much money when I already have pots and pans. Money that can be put into her bank account. I almost sent a friend to buy it for me thinking it would ease the guilt but then my inner voice told me that the fancy cast iron cookware will not make my sancocho taste any better.
I still dream about my Caribbean Blue dutch oven set. Maybe I will buy it next time I’m at the Outlet or I’ll be happy looking at my reflection in the window seeing how far I’ve come.