Fifty euros can buy two or three heavy bags of basmati rice, a new book, a pair of used books, a set of utensils, some chipped dishes, a derelict couch, a stolen bike, fries for a month, a new shirt, a trash can, a nice comforter, a cheap pair of shoes, postage for a package that can't leave the continent, postage for a three letters that can, assorted groceries for two weeks, a rice cooker, or student health insurance for ten months.
Fifty euros and eleven US dollars: this is the total amount of legal tender in my possession. I'm leaning towards the rice cooker, and perhaps, after a special dispensation of grace, I will be able to send my letters; beautiful missives addressed to National Education, Nelnet, and my other lender, requesting that my loan repayments be put on hold without incurring the penalties I probably deserve for "doing it wrong."
At the end of the day, I love my life and the season my life is entering. The various forces at work on me and my roommates in the last two weeks have pushed each of us right up to the existing boundaries of our virtues (although perhaps I speak too quickly for Jeremy and Dan). A sort of alienating friction complicates our daily doings, but it seems to force me, at least, out of my insecurity and passivity—who has time for insecurity or passivity when sleeping under a roof at night is an open question in the afternoon, or when you need to immediately procure information about a ticket for the last train home when the information is not available in English?—and this alone seems to me to suggest a certain trajectory of development for the upcoming year: one that pulls personal identity out of abstraction, uncertainty, and the infinity of possible choices, and instead gives it a tiny but definite existence.
At the risk of sounding like an idiot (give me a break, I'm exhausted from traveling), I mean something like a sense of self that is not valued in itself (e.g. as "material" for creating autobiographical art) and that naturally resists prolonged, morbid introspection, a sense of self that instead manifests in a particular perspective through which to look out, and a peculiar voice with which to say what it is that you see. Seems pretty adult, something that people who have it don't think about, or think about thinking about, because they're too busy being human beings or something. It's assumed, not sought after, and in some ways perhaps it represents a mutual understanding between yourself and the impersonal world you are trying to navigate, which will not give you any extra time to deal with your personal issues because it moves unremittingly, without concern for its inhabitants. Of course, I mean only the natural world, but anyway.
I am pleased to report that we have metal utensils now, and two glasses. The third one broke on Jeremy's hand when he tried to wash it; a sheet of paper towel helped to stop the bleeding in lieu of a bandaid or cloth bandage. When we first got back from the second-hand store there had magically appeared a new desk in our apartment, and someone had also slid a letter under the door. It's as though we really live here or something! So I think to myself as I look out the window towards the distant spires of the old city hall, a building that has cast a shadow over the cobblestone square below it for centuries and centuries.