You know what worries me if I let myself think about it for too long? Retirement. It’s a tough balance between trying not to live like an ascetic in order to fund one’s retirement (which has never been my forte) and not just blowing through all one’s cash only to wake up at 60 and see a thousand dog food casseroles on the horizon. I haven’t been the world’s best at saving for my future so far, and at 39, it feels like it’s already too late. So far, all I have managed is that I contribute the maximum to my 401k each year, and since marrying R. we also contribute monthly to a mutual fund and a gold fund. I’m sure that’s more than a lot of people manage, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still not enough. It’s particularly true at a time when I check my 401k balance and see that my “personal investment performance” is already down 5% for the year. Awesome. So I have essentially been throwing money in the toilet. R. reminds me that when shares are down, the money I put in simply buys more shares, so that when prices go back up, there are more shares to gain value. I understand this intellectually, but still I look at the balance that seems to have been sitting in the same place for some time now and visions of Sunday mornings with my spotted, arthritic hands struggling to guide the scissors through the coupon pages lodge in my mind.
Fortunately, in six weeks we will be spending our tax return on profiteroles, patterned flatware and Prêt-à-Manger duck wraps instead of sticking it in some sort of savings vehicle. That should go a long way toward easing my mind. I guess when I’m trying to think of another way to stretch boiled cabbage into another delicious dish, I can think back on the halcyon days when I thought nothing of starting every Parisian dinner with a slice of foie gras, or of gaily loading another frivolous treat from La Maison du Chocolat into my basket…. Paris itself will be a distant memory, too, but I’m sure if I look hard enough at the cracks in the cheap plaster of our one bedroom tenement apartment, I can imagine it’s a map of Paris’ arrondissements, the Seine flowing agelessly through.
Or, we can just retire there and I can look at the cracks of our Parisian tenement walls instead.