Manners & Misdemeanors
Freedom and Other Priceless Luxuries of the Truly Rich Lady
"All of us want to do whatever our heart desires, but we must remember that freedom does not come for free."
IMAGE COLLAGE BY SANDY ARANAS
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Tell me if this is strange, but I find joy in my once-a-year meeting with my accountants and financial advisors. It's not at all a serious meeting about the IPOs and acquisitions of our humble company, but just a midweek brunch, usually with Bellinis, at a private location where they show me the records of my personal accounts. I just like looking at the numbers, because they give me comfort and satisfaction, especially if the current sum is good, the trend upward, and the conservative projections promising.

My quirk is a holdover from the time when I was a Truly Rich Girl. Back then I couldn't choose the toys that I really, really wanted. Unfortunately, my Truly Rich Parents believed that what a girl needed for, say, her eighth birthday, was an updated version of the Encyclopedia Britannica (complete with world atlas) when what I had really hoped for was a Barbie Dreamhouse with a foldout patio and brick-red roof. “Si-si,” said my mother, “If you want your own things, you'll have to fund them.” To which I said: “Are you serious?”

And that was the story of how I learned to make money. I did odd jobs around the house in exchange for random amounts of cash. Sometimes I was handed lint-laced coins from my dad's pockets and once (just once!) it was a stack of bills. I would list down each amount in my Barbie notebook, add up the sum at the end of the week, and look at the figures on the page every day, checking to see if I had the right number for the dollhouse. When finally I had the funds, I ordered the two-story plastic monstrosity myself. It was so much fun until I realized I was over dolls.

I became much more interested in the concept of getting what I wanted with the money I earned. And isn’t that the most genuine luxury in life: possessing the freedom to do as I please?

For some TRLs, the dream is to build a mega-mansion with a detached twenty-car garage and a rambling pond filled with swans. For others, it is ultra-private and speedy access via private plane to the major airports of the world. Others would just like to have the luxury of never having to answer to anyone at all, that is, to be their own master and commander. 

I, too, have a wild dream: to retire from public life to a quaint little cottage on the beach or an old villa in the Italian countryside (I have seen Diane Lane in Under The Tuscan Sun too many times) or maybe even a hidden cabin in the mountains. But any of these homes must be fully equipped with lightning-speed Internet, a high-tech kitchen and toilets that talk, a home gym, and maybe a pool. These, my advisors tell me, are possible as long as I have X amount in my account.

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I don't know how else to say it, but you do need money to grease the wheels of your freedom, whims, or pleasures. If you can't afford it, well then there are simpler joys that don't involve the wallet like, perhaps, lounging around with an iPhone in your hands, scrolling through the endless void of the Internet, and saying whatever you feel like in the comments section.

Other joys that come for free include wearing a bikini, voting, voicing your dissenting opinion, and staying out all night. Still, you must be aware that these things you and I enjoy now every day came at a very high price many years ago, another kind of price, that many young people now take for granted. All of us want to do whatever our hearts desire, but we must remember that freedom does not come for free.

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C.C. Coo
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