At the time it seemed like the best plan. I had been living alone for years. My son grown enough to know what he wanted at 18 had moved to Santa Barbara several years before. And finally, I had packed up all my books and left the noise of the city for a small town on the edge of the ocean. I needed a change I guess. I needed something emotional maybe. I needed, at the bottom of it to be in something that mattered. Anyway, those turned out to be the wrong kind of reasons. I bought a car. I began to remember how a car actually owns you. Maintenance, repair, insurance, gas, parking fees . . . I hated it. I let my wife drive it while I still rode my bike to work 20 miles each way. But we had to have a house to live in. I’d always rented, like the main character in the John Barth’s The Floating Opera, preferring to pay as I went rather counting on a future.
But rent for a two bedroom house is three times the cost of a studio. Furniture, hell, I’d done with just a bed, table and chairs, board and brick book shelves for years. Now we needed a couch, refrigerator, washer, dryer, things and more things, a second car. Then she didn’t like her job primarily because she had to work during the summer while I still, now with the use of credit, hit the beach. By the time we split, I was $10,000 in debt and totally stressed. At least she took one car and most of the furniture, and of course my favorite albums.
I began a single life again with an extra room to rent and a futon to sleep on. Luckily, I had always ridden my bike so I found myself slowly finding my old level of comfort but with one significant change. I had gotten used to using credit to pay for things. While I wasn’t paying attention, I had moved into a social world that necessitated clothes of a certain style. No more sandals and bare feet. I found that if I wanted I could maintain this life style and take my summers off too. Just use credit cards and pay the minimum. What was worse was in a couple of years I married for the third time. And all my expenses more than doubled.