I don’t know how old I was, but at some point (maybe 12-13?) I got one of those giant plastic Coke bottle banks. For years every time I had any change I threw it into the bottle, never spending a penny. Instead, I told myself I was saving it for “Big Becky.”
Little Becky imagined Big Becky as a struggling artist or writer living in a city, down to my last penny unable to pay rent, or maybe needing to buy something important for my art, and using my Coke bottle change to get me out of the jam. I guess from a young age I considered it my “artistic emergency fund.” I remember occasionally counting it and imagining my older self being so happy to have the money. With such importance attached to it’s meaning, I could spend it on nothing less than the most important of purposes. Obviously during high school, nothing came up.
The Coke bottle got put away when I went to college and basically forgot about. I was a bit of a nomad after college and the bottle stayed in my childhood bedroom for years gathering dust along with my old clothes and stuffed animals. Finally, a few years ago, after I had settled into New Hampshire and had a more permanent home, I brought the Coke bottle with me.
Soon the bottle took on a life of its own. We called it Little Becky, and was the source of change for our weekly laundromat trips. I never felt good about spending the change, after all, Little Becky didn’t save her pennies and quarters so Big Becky could do laundry. Little Becky wanted Big Becky to do something important with the money. Something life changing, that meant something.
Truth be told Big Becky has never had a real emergency. I’m a fierce budgeter and big saver so that even if I had an unexpected expense I would be able to cover it. Sure I’ve paid some rents late, but I’ve never been unable to pay. And if I’ve ever needed something important to my career, I’ve been able to get it.
Little Becky has become somewhat of a burden. It isn’t just a giant green plastic bottle filled with change, it’s a giant jar of expectations, hopes and potential. I’ve been doing great things with my life and I’m very happy, but have I let Little Becky down? Would Little Becky consider me a failure because I’m not a struggling artist? What grand thing should I do with the money?
Usually people have a tough time dealing with the unrealistic expectations of their parents. But me? I was arguing with my former self and I knew it was time for it to end.
I’ve been talking about how stuff is a burden and it is nice to get rid of it. But sometimes it’s not so simple. When you first begin to get rid of the clutter, things go easy. It’s usually knickknacks and old things that you haven’t used for years that are easy to toss. But as the layers of junk disappear it gets harder and harder to get rid of stuff. We are now left with items that have meaning, items like little Becky that really test your resolve.
I am happy to report that I feel like I passed that test; my resolve to simplify is stronger than my sentiment. I took Little Becky to the bank, cashed it in, and bought a 1-year Certificate of Deposit. I think my younger self would be happy with that (I’ll now be earning interest after all) but then again it doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s not Little Becky’s life anymore. It’s mine.