I lost my pen today. This pen was a present from my late husband and was probably ridiculously expensive. It was a very nice pen and while I am a bit saddened, I’m more philosophical. It was bound to happen since it no longer quite fit into the little leather loop on my wallet. I often had to dig for for it between the mint tin, checkbook, tissues and coupon mess in my handbag. Just like I did today at the grocery store before I returned to the coffee counter where I’d last pulled out my wallet. No luck.
My husband’s presents were always over-the-top. He’d buy amazing gifts but ignore the stack of bills. His tastes in everything were extravagant; he liked the best clothes, cars — you name it. There was a time when he worked in the movie business in England when he made great money and could really afford to indulge his expensive tastes, or at least so he told me. This was before my time. When we were together, he never quite got the making-versus-spending money thing. Now I know this is typical of an addict, especially a cocaine addict. But even when he (we) could no longer afford things like Mont Blanc pens, he couldn’t resist. That’s what I lost today – a Mont Blanc pen. I’d been carrying this slick black, too-expensive pen around in my wallet like a Bic for… I do the math from N’s death year 8 years ago, and figure I had this pen for about 10 years. A long time for a pen in my wallet.
When we first got together I admit I was impressed by N’s extravagance. After years of watching my pennies and rarely treating myself, indulging in luxury – at least by my standards – seemed possible. After all, I was making more money than I ever had in my life, socking all my wages in the bank for 4 years while living on a UN daily field allowance in Croatia and Bosnia. In the early years we took some crazy trips and stayed in nice hotels and I bought nicer clothes than my usual thrift-shop finds, but mostly, I stayed my frugal self. N on the other hand, showered me with pricey watches, Bally boots, cashmere sweaters – fancy pens. His generosity and love of nice stuff was seductive. That was before I became aware that he was spending money he didn’t really have. Then it became painful.
I liked the way the pen felt in my hand but rarely used it to write more than a check. Somehow, it never really seemed like mine.