birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Iceberg

Money is laden with significance way beyond the assignment of value. It is like an iceberg- the largest part is hidden beneath the water. The consciousness of the familial historical behaviors around the use of money is submerged, sometimes never to be revealed.

My relationship with money was like 2 ships passing in the night when I was younger. I possessed my 2 quarters of allowance probably no longer than the time it took to walk to the Elmore’s 5 and dime in Cahaba Heights on a Saturday morning. My jaw would be aching and my tummy full on my return home and Elmore’s cash intake that day was 50 cents richer every Saturday. I only knew the value of money from what it could purchase. I didn’t understand the concept of the value exchanged for it.

I grew up with a father who had experienced hunger during the depression. He became a Federal Reserve banker able to hone a banking district down to its last penny. He was keenly aware of money and its value and power and the lack thereof. The specter of not enough was always with him. I absorbed that specter and made it my own. I wish I had paid more attention to his skill with conservation and management of his resources.

Humor was a family hobby at my hours except when it came to money. Hushed tones were reserved for discussing purchases and needs. My mother continued to harangue my father for years because he would not spend $35 to put a faucet on the front of the house. Even I got tired of hearing about it- not that I would EVER say that out loud. I learned from those exchanges that it was wrong or embarrassing to not be or have enough.

My mother also used to complain that my father was never home and always working. He rose to the top of the heap in his field and was very successful. I was resentful of my mother’s complaints because even then I knew that she couldn’t have it both ways. One can’t complain about lack and then not understand when someone is striving very hard to remedy the lack. My father’s spectacle of his own mother working hard in a hot dog stand to feed her 5 children played over and over for him reminding him that he didn’t want that to happen to his wife or kids.

My father did not outlive his savings. He died with money in the bank which was a win for him. He left children who loved fiercely on people and books and ideas. He did not leave children that could multiply money like he could. I think we inherited the right things.

I don’t want to be the Titanic though in years past, I resembled that attitude- one of unsinkability.

I learned that credit cards are not life preservers but actually cement blocks that can harden quickly.

I learned to limit my social media and regular media exposure in order to lower the volume on “not enough unless you have this or not enough unless you buy this.”

I paid off my debt very slowly and painfully because I made the debt. My debt was not hospital bills nor loss of a job but sheer unsinkable thinking that led me there.

I ask daily in meditation that I may be a good steward of my resources. I work hard in a field that pays me well and I work hard to keep the not enough specter’s buzz to a low drone. I listen as hard as I can to my choices about money; I go slowly in unknown waters. I happily write about it and think about value and money when asked. I am grateful for what I do have.

Money Talks...

Money