The actual price of things we call priceless

To what people open up their wallets for is none of my business, but curiosity is a disease I have never found an antidote for, even after all these years. It hasn’t killed me yet.

I look at people and I muse: Where does their money go?

A perilously flirty pair of Stilettos she’ve been coveting from a co-worker for weeks? A haircut that will hopefully make her bored husband tell the difference between her actual presence and the kitchen wallpaper? A car he dreamt about every single night since he was nineteen and less jaded? A mortgage several months past the due date?A debt that’s draining his entire bank account and sanity dry? A bag of popcorn for nights of sedentary solitude? A present for her father?

Does anyone ever look at me and wonder the same thing?

I spend money on books. And books, and books, and books.

It is the accessory I invest in to decorate my average existence—I wear tattered pages like a pair of shoes and I feel lovely. I feel like I will go places. It is the makeover I splurge on to put up a disguise. Notice me, I am more than a wallflower, I promise. It is the dream I have saved up every penny for—what gets me out of bed every morning, what keeps me wide awake at night. Ambition, Acquisition, Asset. Mine. Mine. Mine. It is the rent I pay regularly for inhabiting so many worlds when I am not here and absent. It is an addiction consuming me in hours, no, in split-seconds; I will never get enough of it. It is a necessity I cannot bear to live without, oh god, it is breakfast, lunch and dinner. I feed on it. It is healthy, it is poisonous. It is the only luxury I allow myself to indulge in. Mmmmm, books.

I exist for no other currency. I am blind to whatever it costs. Like any kind of love, it leaves us broken, makes beggars out of us.

It is my choice of poverty, my preferred form of wealth.

And yet, as another story beckons me to a life of starving, I succumb.

I open up my palms and cry out: how much? take all of me, take everything—

I am a reader. I am a millionaire.

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