Wants, Needs, Money, Travel

Hi there, lovelies. I’m back for good. So sorry to keep you waiting (those of you who care). I’ve been dealing with some serious doubts – in general worthiness, in the nature of my life’s path, in my ability to correctly assemble the puzzle pieces of this pilgrimage. I’m just starting to get a few things figured out, and as my life gets sorted, pilgrimage is sounding more and more like a real possibility.

Since leaving a long term relationship and moving on with my life five months ago, I’ve really been struggling financially. I’ve never doubted that I’d eventually be OK, but it’s been kind of scary to go from a life that to me seemed almost middle class (for the first time in my life – a nice apartment, a fridge stocked with food, a washer and dryer of my own, even a car to drive!) back down to where I was 8 years ago and before, living paycheck to paycheck, with no guarantee that there would be another paycheck to follow. Yes, I know that many of us live this way. It makes me feel spoiled to essentially complain about my life as it is right now when there are people living on the streets, but the mental stress of feeling like I could be living on the streets soon, too, is really getting to me. It’s not that dire of a situation – there’s always something to be done – but at some moments over the last few months, it’s definitely felt that way. I recently had to start selling off possessions on Craigslist to be able to buy groceries, and that was really scary.

I’ve also been through complete loss before, and know that I am strong enough to come out on top. I can’t get too down about not having money or things. I learned the hard way that the only things that hold true worth in this short earthly existence are all inside of you. Like many in this city, during Hurricane Katrina I lost everything I owned, and was cast adrift in the world with no income and very few possessions (one outfit, a couple of photo albums, my laptop, and my cat). My story wasn’t at all tragic compared to most, but I was still broken for a while. Thankfully, with the help of a few great friends who took me in and kept me from crying myself into an early grave, I managed to pick myself up and build a new, stronger, better life. Now I have all the faith in the world that I am built to weather through moments like this. Also, thanks to my friends’ examples, I’m now equipped to help other people float, too. One day I will. But first, I need just a bit more patching up.

So I’m getting ready to embark on the hardest journey yet – debt repayment. In order to start saving up again for the pilgrimage, I need to pay off the debt I accumulated in breaking free of my old relationship, as well as my taxes from last year, plus save up my taxes for this year (I’m a freelancer, which means that my income taxes aren’t automatically taken out of my paychecks). If I’m very, very good, I might even be able to realistically plan to go to Santiago de Compostela next summer or maybe next fall. It’s only a year, but it will most likely be a hard year as I learn to live simply after living what (to me, anyway) has been a life of stressful excess. I’ve already started lightening my load over the last few weeks by beginning to clean out my apartment, selling off the things that are worth a few dollars, giving away the things that would be too difficult to sell, and making tough decisions about all of the flotsam and jetsam I’ve accumulated over the years. Next up will be paring down my spending, while increasing my work hours substantially. I’m not excited about that part, but it will have to be OK.

Just think, in a year I could be boots on the ground in Spain!