I’m struggling to adjust to my reduced circumstances, to use a somewhat Victorian phrase. I never thought a person like me would find poverty and saving difficult, but I’m finding it difficult. Back in the days I went to university, I was often poor. I lived in a truly Dickensian flat and sometimes had to make do with a very small allowance for food.
That flat was so cold in winter that at one point I had the smart idea of heating the kitchen with the electrical stove and moving my bed there. To be warm for once. Next month’s electrical bill made it clear it wasn’t very clever.
Taking a shower there was a nightmare too. The bathroom was so very cold that I much preferred a bath, but the hot water tank couldn’t handle both a bath and a shower right after each other, so it often ran empty by the time I was ready for a shower. And if my hair was full of shampoo, it was very, very annoying.
One spring, we had a mosquito infestation in the town. And my flat was severely affected. The mosquitoes came in through the ventilation shaft so the place was packed with them. I’m a great favourite of the mosquito species as well. Maybe they sought me out. When standing in the bus stop near that house, I was the only person they attacked. It felt strange to be waiving my hands there while others stood calmly. And no escape from them even in the flat. It had a balcony though. And in spring and summer it was warm there. One could go for a walk in the graveyard or the manor park nearby. Those were nice things. Lilacs blossomed on the edge of the graveyard. The closest store was located next to the Rapists’ Wood, as I called it when I first saw it. I never had the courage to walk through that wood because it looked exactly like a spot where one might get assaulted. Some places just give me a bad feeling like that.
In Poland, we once stayed at a hotel that had formerly been… something else. I’m not sure what, but it could have been a care home for the elderly, a hospital, a tuberculosis hospital, a mental hospital. It had long eerie corridors, old furniture and bedding reminiscent of the 1960s. There were sinks in the bedrooms. The shared bathroom was located in the middle of the corridor. It was a huge room with some 20 cubicles, all last renovated in 1970. No one was there in the corridors or in the bathrooms. It was dark. When I entered the bathroom, the window was open, the wind blew in, and it gave me the creeps. So much so I couldn’t use it, but rushed back and had to ask my friend to come with me to the bathroom. I was too scared to be there alone. It felt like a place of suffering and misery. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I’d like to go back and find out what had actually been there.
Anyway, I’m used to living frugally, I’m used to inconvenience. Why can’t I do it any more?
I don’t seem to manage keeping to my monthly budget at all. I keep getting myself things that I shouldn’t be getting if I wanted to save. And I do want to. A year ago I could afford these things. I can’t any more, but I carry on like I did before. Dream of travelling somewhere and get myself hair curlers for 50 euro because I absolutely need a third one. Every girl should have one for soft waves, one for small waves and one for big waves. Naturally. And I lacked the one for big waves.
I don’t even have much to say to this except sigh in dejected despair and hope I’ll adjust to being poorer sooner or later. Because I can make poverty fun. I still can do that. If I can’t afford a fridge, I can store food on the balcony for most of the year. If I can’t afford a proper stove, I’ll get a single hot plate. If I can’t afford a bed, I’ll sleep on a mattress and the dishes can be washed in the bathroom sink. This sort of life and circumstances is nothing to me. But somehow I find it hard to give up on presents for myself. Things bought for no practical reason whatsoever – books, hair curlers, clothes, shoes, writing paper etc. My priorities have never been with the practical. And maybe having to use the balcony as a fridge could be an acceptable trade-off for me. As long as I’m okay with it, does it even matter that my priorities are completely askew?
I should write a post on how to avoid buying necessary things and what can be used instead. Oscar Wilde would probably agree with me that buying necessary things is tedium itself. One should always prioritize the beautiful (the engaging, the interesting etc.). I find his general life philosophy to be a little too superficial and decadent, but I do agree with him on a number of points.
Anyway, I was exaggerating somewhat. I do buy necessary things when it is unavoidable and usually reach a somewhat better compromise than living for years with no fridge, but my general inclination definitely is towards pretty things or fun things. Not laptops, phones, fridges, stoves and TVs.