Welcome to "Your old pal CoKane knows that most people don't read things longer than a line or two anymore but now that she has a break after an intense few months of freelancing is using the quaint form of blogging to figure out how to write in her own voice again."
Ahem. Okay. [cracks knuckles]
Here is an activity that sounds like it would be cathartic after life has put you through the wringer and you are getting divorced: burning things that represent things.
Let me back up. Leah and I planned to camp at our favorite Pennsylvania campground over the summer solstice weekend, and she made the seasonal suggestion that we get witchy. This dovetailed nicely with a longtime plan of mine that it was finally time to act upon. For years, I intended to hold an "I Spit on Your Grave, Credit Card Debt" party, once the fantastical day came when I finally paid off my debt, in which I would burn the many years' worth of bills that had kept me in thrall.
Let's back up again. I'm not one to comment on the economy and how it may or may not have gotten screwed up, but I can tell you that in college, it was possible to literally get signed up for a credit card while napping. The banks know you are already making some mistakes with your newfound semi-independence and they want in on it. And so I got my first credit card around age 18 or 19 when MBNA called me a vulnerable napping moment. To make them go away and because I wasn't very good at saying no at that time, I answered their questions then returned to my lazy slumbles. Although I hadn't asked for that card, I was a responsible and upstanding user with my newfound credit and I paid it off every month with my paycheck from Sam Goody or my babysitting money and I rarely had an ongoing balance and my credit line kept getting extended.
And then years later I moved to Brooklyn and worked in publishing and all that went out the window. My balance creeped only in one direction for years, up and up, creating a continuing and ever more dread-inducing situation that was best not to think about other than to say "Someday I will beat you!" and shake my fist.
When I did finally beat my debt just over a year ago, by using an agressive payment plan over the two and a half years I worked at CNBC, it was anticlimactic. That achievement was eclipsed by the extreme inconvenience of the rest of my life coming down on all sides (such as losing that job, as just one example). But now things have settled enough to resume my fiery plan.
The first night of camping, Friday June 20, would have been my fifth wedding anniversary. Happy unnaversary, a few people said to me that day. I didn't feel particularly happy or sad about it. I did feel un-.
Since the shit hit the fan, many former posessions are gone. Preparing for camping, I had to remember I threw away the two-person tent that Leah and I bought on our road trip at that Gettysburg Walmart populated with grizzly bikers, I threw away the Coleman lantern I got from the ex's grandmom who is no longer with us and which busted too soon anyway, I threw away the air mattress (we are talking about glamping, really) which also busted too soon. I have had to do this a lot over the past year--remember which items got thrown away or which CDs I missed claiming for mine as I packed up all our stuff. In its own horrible way, though, moving three times in a year, combined with a dividing of goods, combined with a huge purging of goods was liberating.
But screw you, life's twists and turns, because I still have my Volkswagen Campmobile tent which dates sometime from 1968--mid-70s and when assembled becomes a circus tent the size of a New York studio apartment!
I arrived first to the campground after 11 p.m. and was alone with Addie at the end of nowhere in the Pennsyltuckey woods for about two hours in the dark, illuminated only by my car's headlights and my headlamp, and set about setting up the VIP Tent, which I hadn't done in at least seven years.
It's cool though, I've set it up in the dark before, though never alone. This was nothing compared to last year. I got this.
I can totally turn this
While picturing this jaggedly crawling out of the woods at me.
Though Friday night limped off to a very late start, once the fire was going I marked the unnaversary by burning some papers from my wedding planning folder in the campfire. At Leah's request, I spared the blank wedding cake worksheet (which is a thing that exists). Never know when you might need one of those.
The main ceremony around the fire was Saturday, on the solstice proper.
Here's a representative credit card bill from my earliest days in Brooklyn.
Outmoded vendor of recorded music and videos Kim's Video: DEAD
Favorite veggie restaurant Kate's Joint: DEAD
A place apparently called FUN: DEAD (I'm assuming)
Here now was the bulk of the evidence, about to be burned.
I didn't dump the whole contents wood-printed tin file box in at once, I balled or tore each one up and burned them one by one. More than the catharsis I desired, I mostly felt amazed at this box of mistakes. Relatively minor purchases and trips abroad that I thought were being taken on a budget added up to debt that was insurmountable for so long.
Not to mention that every few bills there would be a $29 late fee and then in the later ones $39 late fee. Then the finance charges. Then sometimes even the annual fee? The balance transfers as I shifted this chunk and that chunk to new cards with lower APRs. Why did I put theese things on credit? (And why was I apparently still buying items from Delia’s when I was pushing 30!?) Now that I only pay using money I already have, it’s all so foreign.
Rather than focusing on the mistakes, the ceremony should be something to take heart in: I got through and past and over this credit trap foolishness.
And here I am, with torn up pieces, making it rain.
I won't comment on what my fellow campers burned, but this was the most raging fire we'd ever created while camping, and photogenic as well. Its power blew smaller torn-up pieces back up and away from its flames.
Nailed it with this new, cleansing, purging tradition.
We done good.