There’s something sort of patriotic about the fact that I’ll be memorializing the aughts well into this brave new year with a sizable debt to Bank of America. Like our great nation, I spent the last ten years getting stung and overcompensating, acting indecisive and entitled, living way beyond my means. And now I am paying. With interest! My credit card statements are so textbook “Don’t” they deserve a reality show: a trip to Japan for the wedding of a couple I’d never met; $500 worth of phone calls from what was supposed to be a budget trip to the Dominican Republic; shitty new Ikea furniture to replace shitty broken Ikea furniture; more late fees than I care to add up; more liquor than I care to admit. Oh hai, it’s me! The girl Suze Orman warned you about.
But this is not a lament. I made my own bed (charged it, anyway) and, much like that requisite post-college upgrade from a secondhand futon to a brand-new mattress, I consider my credit history rather priceless. It’s like a mathematical LiveJournal: a statement of my psyche (deep denial); an inventory of my twenties (job interview clothes); maybe even something of an anthropological artifact (Sleater-Kinney tickets!). Herewith, a dozen of the transactions that shaped or epitomized my decade, charted (logarithmically) into a Debt / Regret Matrix which plots their principal price tags against the emotional interest they’ve accumulated. So far.
Jessanne Collins has written for Salon, Radar, The New York Observer, and The Morning News.