Simple enough French. I’m always in search of the next adventure, right? Wrong. Apparently, this little phrase, which I’ve had on my dating profile for the last week, implies that I enjoy “chaining” men. Brilliant. Well that explains some of the emails then.
They’ve come in all bizarre shapes and creative forms, these messages. I’ve been offered every variation of group gatherings, a whole range of activities I still can’t get my head around, and lots and lots of financial propositions. And as I considered how rich I could be if I was a little less afraid of the law, and a lot more sexually liberal, I started thinking about money. Or, more precisely, how money makes us value things.
I’m going to move away from talking about sex, because I have no desire to investigate the price of my sexual integrity. But the value of little, everyday things is something of which I have suddenly become acutely aware.
I’m not living on much money out here. I get paid twice a week at the bar (it’s a registered, taxed job but I get paid cash in hand, which is nice) and that cash is what I live on. Whenever possible, I don’t touch the money I make writing, or use my card (I’m saving to pay off debts). Which means that twice a week, I run out of money. I empty out my wallet and buy my last coffee with my last centimes.
There are things I spend money on. Drinks in cafés are by far my biggest expenditure, though I take that as investment in my writing. But all of a sudden, with limited cash flow, there are some things I don’t buy at all. Clothes. Beauty products. Home decorations. Expensive groceries. Things that floated in and out of my life without much consideration until money swanned in and slapped a big orange price tag on them.
It’s not only that I can’t afford luxuries on my own dime. Money has changed my enjoyment of them. If I were to buy the new pair of boots I fell in love with yesterday, I’d constantly be thinking: “God, these have got to bring me more enjoyment than a return trip home, or 4 meals out, or 43 coffees”. And suddenly the boots don’t look so shiny any more.
There are some positive consequences. Two weeks ago I splashed out and spent 1.50 on one large water glass. Now, every time I have a drink, I get untold delight out of the fact that I don’t have to keep refilling the piddly little glasses that came with my flat.
But most of the time, my new awareness of the value of things ruins them a little. I remember watching an episode of The Simpson’s where Lisa leaves her tooth in a cup of coke, and an entire planet of life forms develops on it. She looks down a microscope at their strange rituals and bizarre practices and thinks: “What on earth is this all about?” Sometimes, when I’m wandering the streets of Paris, looking at the way the world runs on paper-note-swapsies, I feel a bit like that. Like, is this really what it’s all about? Making money to spend money on stuff?
Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate there are some things you need, and some things that are worth their weight in gold (or credit card debt). But on the weighing scales of value, at least for me, all that clutter gets out-tipped quite easily. If I ever find myself with some extra pennies, I won’t use them to “go shopping”. I’d rather spend them on cooking lessons, and glasses of wine in busy little cellars, and trips to countryside.
And when my purse is rattling with nothing but coppers again, it’s alright. I’ll just wander.