A Solid Investment


jhighgrad2By sixteen, I’d watched my mother work hard at her day job
as a clinic receptionist, supplement that meager income
waitressing at night and doing seasonal work at the apple farm
on weekends in the fall to keep her four kids in sneakers, jeans,
and peanut butter. When my great, great aunt died, leaving me
with one less dedicated adult in my life but a $7000 inheritance,
I already knew not to blow it on a car, Doc Martens, or blow,
but to settle it in stocks like they taught us in 3rd grade,
requiring us to make a good investment, chart its progress
in crayon weekly, watch our fictional $100 blossom in an economic

boom. It was a college seed. A just in case. An I’ve Got Plans
for My Future
move. It was tuition, rent, and ramen noodles
should my other degree funding options fizzle and fade. A tanked
economy and inept broker had crushed my $7000 to $3000
by my senior year at university (so much for elementary lessons
in diligence and prosperity). Time to cash out while there was still
any cash to out. Now 21, somewhat schooled, and nearly degreed,
I bought a backpack and a plane ticket and headed to Europe
with my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, because, before I never could again
due to job and family and mortgage and inertia, I wanted
to get lost on roadways where I couldn’t read the signs, frustrated
by transit systems I didn’t understand, and eat crepes prepared by a street

vender outside a train station in Paris that were so good I wept. Before
life could crush me from $7000 to $3000 to Nothing, before the myelin sheath
covering my nerves could turn to lace, before all my careful planning could
leave me grounded and housebound, I needed to invest richly in sheer audacity.

September 2013
Julie Ayers


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