A funny thing happened to me tonight at Rite Aid. After I swiped my credit card through the machine and pushed all the appropriate buttons, the cashier took my receipt, circled something and then proceeded to give me a game card. It’s part of a promotion. They give you the card and several pieces to play each time you purchase something. Anyway, I usually decline promotions, but this particular one captured my imagination when I saw the grand prize: $250,000.
Why, you might ask, did that captivate me? It’s just a tad bit more than what we paid for our townhouse (currently worth $129,000). In other words, the price of freedom. So, I did something I rarely do with sweepstakes: I got excited. As soon as I got home, I took the card to our kitchen table, giddily opened my game pieces, gingerly bended the perforations to detach each piece and place it on its throne. Finding that I had enough game pieces for a chance to win the cruise (but nowhere near what was required for the mortgage), I actually followed the instructions and taped the requested pieces to an index card, put it in an envelope, stuck a stamp on, and slid it in the mail slot.
All the while thinking, “I’m an idiot! Why am I doing this? They’re going to send me junk mail and sell my information marketing firms.” Yet, the skeptic in my brain could not drown out the dreamer saying, “I want to win something, damn it!”
Guess after so many unpleasant surprises these past couple of years, I’ve reached a plateau. A place where I have become prey to fantasies of luck and chance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful for the good things that have happened. Working from home on a fantastic project, sharing an office with David, having more flexibility to be with our daughter. But there are so many question marks for the near future, it feels a bit akin to being in that uncomfortable 12-14 year old age range again. Lots of dramatic change teamed with an ever present sense of powerlessness, hope, possibility, uncertainty.
At such times, finding a game card with your magic number can make you feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. Dreaming about a life beyond cabbage soup and laundry. A life where magic exists again and there are marvelous and odd surprises around every corner.