As I pulled out of my driveway, I glanced at the dashboard as. A small, green light indicated that I was low on gasoline. I would need to stop after I dropped my daughter off at the high school and before I proceeded on to work. I hate this feeling, I dread the telling lump that occurs in my throat when I realize how much money is about to be drained from my wallet. I happily drive a little Honda that gets excellent gas mileage, but $4.23 a gallon hurts no matter what it is you drive.
Back in 1981, I drove a little maroon convertible Fiat. It cost me less than $10 to fill it up and a fill-up would last about five days; I still lived with my folks but drove 38 miles each way to college. I was taking about 15 units and they were intensive: microbiology, behavioral science, communications, oral anatomy. Too much homework for me to hold a job, though I worked sometimes on the weekends with my mom teaching baton lessons. My mom used to give me $25 a week to survive on. $10 - $15 went in the gas tank and the rest I used for lunches or snacks. Going to school was my job; it was important for me to get good grades, graduate, and get a job.
As I look back on that time, it was just so simple. My keen responsibilities were to attend my classes, do my homework, clean the bathroom on Saturdays and give help where needed around the house. I don't even like to catalogue what I have to think about now and what my current daily responsibilities are. We forget the changes and growth because we are a part of it. Time can't slow - to keep up, we just move faster in an effort to slow time down. Kind of convoluted when you think about it.
I survived on a shoestring; the important things became evident as money became scarce. It's not quite the same as absence makes the heart grow fonder for during tight times, needs supersede wants. I needed to have enough gas to get back and forth to school. I needed to have a little extra cash for impromptu school requirments and lunch. It wasn't long and I was packing a brown bag to take to college in the form of leftovers in Tupperware and peanut butter sandwiches. Lunches in the form of fast food or a deli sandwich soon became a luxury, a want not a need. And with that realization came the uncanny ability to taper costs.
The ongoing recession has reminded me once again about needs and wants. I need to be healthy. I need to have gas so I can get to work so that I might afford to feed and clothe my teen-aged children. Movies and nights out are a luxury - a want. I need to keep credit cards clear and debt low. Shopping for new clothes or clean-burning expensive candles are my favorite kind of wants. But they are just that, wants.
Every single day, I receive a resume or two in my inbox with a request to review and forward to anyone that might be hiring or recruiting or to simply make suggestions to the job seeker. Times are still shaky, we haven't licked this yet. So giving back when I can is good, I forget my wants when I see someone else's need.
I remember when a single cheese, everything no onions was a treat. Maybe someday, that simplicity will thrive be again.