Around 7 this morning I was sitting in the low branches of a tree by the river and reading. This is a bit different from my normal position on the floor with my cat doing her absolute best to use only body language to show she wants my attention but doesn’t want me to know she wants it. The book would also be a bagel. I don’t read that much.
So while I was sitting on this friendly tree reading like videos of dogs seeing the snow for the first time don’t exist and aren’t constantly on my mind, I started wondering why I don’t travel more. Why wouldn’t I fling myself across the world to find more places like this, more wild patches of nature, more chances to take myself out of my routines, more moments spent on or near something natural.
Oh, right. I’m a broke baby.
If this vacation were planned on only my paycheck, we would have had a fabulous trip to Taco Bell. Isn’t it weird that this whole genre of experience–leaving your town, taking off work for a bit, staying somewhere that isn’t your home, sleeping in, eating and not being scared about whether you’ll be able to eat next week, just having time to rest–is largely inaccessible to people with an average income.
A few years ago I had a week off between jobs. Not that long between paychecks, but I was constantly worried that I’d run out of food for me or my cat. One week without new money coming in should not be cause for fear when the CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos could retire and live for the next thousand years on a fixed income of 143 million dollars a year. My week was mostly pasta and rice because that’s what you make when you have 10 dollars to get you through a week. I know there are some distinct differences between my career and Jeff’s. I’m a teacher. He runs a monopoly on the business model of a sweatshop. However, I feel like there’s no possible way to justify a discrepancy like this. There’s no amount of work that’s worth what he makes. And nobody deserves to be afraid if they’ll be able to eat when there are people who can afford a spare island just for their housekeepers’ butlers.
Lately, I’ve been taking walks by the river in the morning. It’s a much nicer way to start a morning than cussing at a mirror because I still look like a depressed lego. In the time it takes me to wonder how much plasma I’d have to sell to be able to afford to take a week off work in the summer, Jeff Bezos makes over a quarter of a million dollars. In contrast, if I sell plasma, I can sit for an hour, get my blood drained, watch the plasma separated from it, and then feel the weird half blood pump back into me, all while watching World War Z on a tv hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the room, and I’ll get $100 for that. I don’t think I deserve $243,000 minute, but I also don’t think anyone deserves to need to literally sell their health to get by.
As I go out again this morning, I’ll be thinking of how deliciously tart fresh blackberries can be and how easy it is to think of nothing with the sound of the river there to push any unwanted thoughts away, but mostly I’ll be thinking that I don’t deserve this because my blood is not actively being drained to pay for it. Meanwhile, if Jeff Bezos spent half of every dollar he has, he’d only be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg.
I just want to eat berries and take naps once or twice a year. I’m basically a chubby baby bear. Why is this impossible for so many people who deserve it way more than me?