LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
But the first time Kristin and I got to go alone — and take the city bus, no less, to get there — the mall became a different place. Suddenly, all the stores were at our disposal, not just the ones my mom wanted to go to. I could write a line on my hand with every lipstick sample at Shopper’s Drug Mart if I wanted to. I could spend an hour at Le Château, considering each and every overly-trendy item on the racks. I could go to Laura Secord and buy two, even three French mint chocolate bars if I felt hungry and rich enough.
Because, boy howdy, I had money in my purse, my own money I earned babysitting that could be spent on absolutely anything. No dismayed expressions from mom would accompany those purchases. The only ramification would be that once it was spent, it was spent.
It’s amazing how miserly one becomes when spending one’s own money. For the first time, you realize what things actually cost and you’re forced to consider if you really want the George Michael “Faith” cassette tape so badly you’re willing to part with $10.99 at Sam the Record Man. It’s also amazing how paying for something when you’re just learning can be stressful. You’ve got your wallet in your hand, sure, you’ve waited your turn in line, yes, but, shoot! Tax! It doesn’t really cost $10.99, it costs $12.09. Do I have enough? Are people watching me as I’m forced to use nickels and pennies to make up the difference?
But once those first purchases are made, man, there is nothing like them. Sure, they represent the blood, sweat and tears that come out of countless babysitting jobs. But most importantly, they represent beautiful, thrilling independence. They reek of it almost as powerfully as Calvin Klein’s Eternity.