The bills have arrived. I have piles of receipts I am matching up to my credit card statements. Every time I check one off, a memory is triggered that makes me say, “Worth it!” The gas to get us out of Florida? Worth it. Camping fees at our first stop in Mississippi? Worth it. The gas to get us out of Mississippi? Worth it. Admission to the Very Large Array? Worth it. Postcards for the grandchildren? Worth it.
More gas, more admissions, more postcards? All worth it. It’s time to pay the piper and I am grateful that I got to dance. There is now scientific evidence that spending money on experiences will make us happier than spending it on stuff. I don’t have a lot to show for the money we spent on our trip out West – a few refrigerator magnets and a lot of photographs – but I have memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I had reached an age (sixty-one, if you’re counting) when I was starting to think I might not have any more adventures. I thought I might just sit in my comfy chair and play iPad games or have virtual adventures on the Xbox 360 for the rest of my life, but I was wrong. Amazingly, delightfully wrong. I went out into America, and I saw beautiful things. I saw things I had dreamed of seeing all my life and I saw things I had never even imagined. I hiked legendary trails and I hiked trails so obscure we only knew about them because there’s an internet and a search engine to help find them. I climbed a scary ladder and felt stronger and braver than I’ve felt since my last child was born.
I used to say, “I want to see the Grand Canyon before I die.” Well, I’ve seen it now, but I’m not done yet. I have a list. I want to see Yosemite. I want to see Yellowstone. I want to see giant sequoias and I want to see the Aurora Borealis. The world is full of beautiful things and I want to see as many of them as I can.
We saved for this trip, so I can pay these bills once I get them in order. We will do that, and then we will start saving for the next trip. Sometimes, I look at credit card statements and wonder what in the world I was thinking when I charged all that stuff. This time, I know exactly what I was thinking.