“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” –Dom Helder Camara
For all my poverty, I am rich this week thanks to a fridge full of vegetables and half of a left-over chicken. It’s unbelievably exciting. Luxurious, even. Edibles: the best gift ever. Though it is a blessing to be able to eat when I want, groceries are never high on my priority list. Instead I skimp to pay off my Heart of the World debt, living off rice and potatoes and very little else, and anything I can claim as extra, however meager, goes to better things, closer to my heart than survival or an easier life. Last time I went out, for example, instead of food or a camera bag or a casing for the naked SATA drive that contains my photography archives, I purchased tickets to the Dusty Flower Pot’s upcoming show, The Hard Times Hit Parade, for Valentine’s Day. Possibly not the most clever decision, but the kind of choice I’ll stand by and defend tooth and nail, even as my tummy growls defiance. A large part of being poor is knowing when to make those choices, understanding that while it is important to scrape by, it is equally essential to feel alive sometimes, too.
That said, today I’m about to splurge on something that neatly straddles the line between requirement and desire – I’m replacing my shredded duvet, the one that died so ignominiously on the way to Burning Man. It’s not something I can afford, strictly speaking, not when ten dollars is still a lot of money to me, but it’s a want that has finally nudged its hesitant way past wistful desire to actual need and why I have a credit card. I have been cold almost every night this winter, waking up so regularly in the dark of morning, shivering underneath two layers of inadequate blanket, that my cat, Tanith, has finally learned to sleep under the covers with me, the better to share some heat. My first thought this morning, as I lay in the dark, huddled in a tiny ball, “To be warm again, I can’t put a price on that.”
EDIT: Even better, I’ve been given the opportunity to barter for one! Photography for a duvet! Internet win.