Financial Responsibility

Sunshine State of Mind

Stephanie Hempel, Columnist

The invisible tightrope beneath my feet keeps shaking in the wind of necessity. A series of future deadlines are strung from a window in the Humanities building (my sweetest home) and wrapped three times around the planet with no set end. Oblivion is blooming like honeysuckle plants; my future fate is growing without direction. I hear my bank account wail in the distance as I inch my way across the thin wire peering down at infrastructure as I go. The student loan companies have been forwarding me love letters about payment plans that I have shredded into papier-mâché wings. Every time I hold out my arms to fly I remember their hollow make-shift quality and fall to my feet. Defeat. As I climb the stairs of the Humanities Building to try again I count the unheard footsteps of all the young writers who’ve felt like I do, lost souls unsure of their passions. They echo behind me, some of them still swarming their options beyond eternal fate. It is the occasional privilege to be lost in this world but I’m so weary that I feel almost invisible. Small and imaginary like a tightrope in the sky, crumbling under the pressure of discovery, and expectation watching the honeysuckles bloom.




Yesterday, my stepmom told me that she and my father were proud of how “financially independent” I’ve become on my own. I was punching my debit card digits in for Naropa University’s online application fee when I received her text message.

I translated “financially independent” into: “At first we were really mad at you for moving out on your own but it has been a few years and you’re still alive so you must be fine and we really enjoy no longer funding your expenses. Sorry we never told you sooner.”

I let out a heavy sigh and released the $60 into the mystery of the internet atmosphere, hoping the money would at least pay some deep-thinking professor if my application got declined. Education weighs a lot sometimes, but I’m set on reminding myself that it is the best thing that a person can do. I replied to my stepmom with a steady “thanks,” and tried to mask that, deep down inside of me, that void yearning for parental approval had been waiting four years for them to say that.

I don’t yet understand the dynamics of grownups. I thought that would naturally kick in after I paid my taxes or made my own dentist appointments, but I’m still not sure of the rules. I don’t understand yet the rights and wrongs and why sometimes my parents view my world in an entirely backwards way. Maybe I never will.

Ironically the same day I got financial praise, an extra check was taken out of my account leaving me with no money. I realized this while buying tacos at Qdoba in Sioux City. The man at the register said the word “declined” three times before my friend bought my food (Paige Allen, thanks for the tacos.) All I could do was cry at my financial irresponsibility and remember that all I was missing in my life was more money.

They print millions of dollars every day. Some people never reach any of it, and some people have all of it wedged between their pockets and moral beliefs. My parents are just “grownups” and apparently so are the rest of us even if we aren’t sure what that role entails. The sun is going to die one day so all we can do is wake up and try again.