March 23, 2019

My Year of Living Like a Rich Person

“In 2008 the U.S. economy was collapsing, but I myself was experiencing a brief and temporary period of financial abundance, the first and only time like this I have ever known. After years of working at office jobs that barely allowed me breathing time on the weekends, I was fully freelance, or as I would later come to think of it, unemployed. I was renting my own one-bedroom apartment and spending a lot of time eating, going to yoga classes, and lying on the floor crying while dredging up bad memories to put in the book I was working on. I had been through a lot, I thought, and I was due some time to relax. I wasn’t a complete idiot — I knew that the windfall I was living on, from a book advance that was rapidly being decimated by taxes and insurance premiums, was finite and unlikely to be replenished via writing alone. But I was enough of an idiot to imagine that teaching yoga was going to be an adequate Plan B. And I was also enough of an idiot to start hanging out with T.

T was around during the day when I had nothing pressing to do, willing to have me over at 2 p.m. for tea and gossip. She was beautiful, with a wild head of perfectly maintained hair, and always smelled amazing. She had usually just come from a fitness class or a massage or a haircut or other more esoteric spa experience. She had written for years for women’s magazines, which were then much more of a thing, and so a lot of this self-care was either subsidized or a legitimate research expense. But you got the sense that she would still be doing it, even if it weren’t part of her job. This was just the way she lived. She reminded me of Colette, the author whose photograph was on the vision board I kept above my desk. She was a sensualist, an aesthete. She made it seem normal and rational and good to spend hours taking care of your body and mind, soothing and nourishing yourself like a pampered, beloved pet.”

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