The Broke Rich

December 4, 2010

in #Haiti,Business,Faith,Personal

A month ago I decided to fly home to LA for a week because I knew I would not be able to come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I usually like to spend a few weeks in LA when I fly back, but this time I could only stay for a week, as I have weekly bible study group leader duties in New York. Sure, leading a bible study group for the past few months has been cramping my jet-setter-nomad lifestyle, but I committed to being a bible study group leader at my church, so it is what it is.

If you know me, you know I can’t stand to have burly un-neat, misshaped eyebrows. It’s my thing, probably because I don’t frequently wear makeup and nice eyebrows are the best un-makeup a lady can wear. Note: If you ever see me in the streets and my eyebrows are lookin’ rough, then you know I’ve hit rock bottom. I prefer a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax every two weeks, but if the recession gets the best of me, at a bare minimum, I will find some change for an eyebrow wax.

As a result of my eyebrow preferences, I have formed very nit picky habits about my eyebrow care. They have to be groomed to a certain shape (i.e. natural), and I need my wax specialist to wax, pluck and trim. If I come across someone who only does one or two of those procedures, she’s crossed out of my book. I will not return unless under dire circumstances.

I realize I’m this way because I’m spoiled. Five years ago I discovered the best eyebrow wax specialist on the planet. I’m not the only person who thinks this, as numerous Yelp and FourSquare reviews agree with me. This eyebrow wax is only $10 and located in West Hollywood, CA but it’s not even about the price. It’s about the wax specialist: her name is Michelle and she’s the bomb.com. Michelle is Vietnamese, I believe, and she looks ageless (one day she told me she was almost 40 or something crazy old, and I gave her the side eye because she doesn’t look a day over 26).

Having the eyebrow waxing requirements that I have, one can only imagine the difficulties I endured after moving to New York two years ago. The New York beauty game is a whole different ball game. There are nail salons on every other corner, many of them charging $7 for a manicure and the service is flippant because there are so many options.  You would think the price point is perfect until you go in and look at the conditions of the salon, or the method in which they sanitize their instruments. I’ve also tried upscale, expensive places, and I am just not impressed with New York.

Nobody in NYC seems to be able to groom my eyebrows like Michelle. As a result, every trip to LA requires an eyebrow wax. It doesn’t matter where I’m at in my two week waxing cycle. It doesn’t matter how broke I am. I have to make a trip to WeHo and see Michelle.

So, back to last month. I stopped in my nail salon to get an eyebrow wax on my way to LAX. I stopped by as soon as they opened because I was going straight to the airport to catch a flight back to NYC after my waxing. I was so early, in fact, Michelle hadn’t yet arrived for the day. I told the receptionist I loved Michelle, and didn’t mind waiting. I explained that I was on my way home in NYC and had to see Michelle, as was my ritual these days.

“So, you’re just visiting LA?”

“Eh. Sort of. I kind of live in both LA and New York.”

“Oh, so you’re rich?” She said with blunt amazement.

I looked at her rather quizzically. Nobody has ever called me rich before, and seriously meant it. Especially so bluntly. Sure, it sounds like I’m rich. Whenever I tell anyone I am bi-coastal they swear up and down I am some kind of baller. If only they knew I feel the brokest I’ve ever felt in my life. Years ago my bank accounts were bigger than they are now. Which is odd to me because years ago I felt like that was the brokest I’d ever been in my life. But today? Right now? This is what broke feels like.

And yet here a perfect stranger was calling me rich. To my face.

I humbly went along with this “rich” notion as we continued to talk. I explained I pay rent in NYC, but my car and furniture remain in LA, and my business was also based in LA. Yeah…I wasn’t doing such a good job of convincing her of how un-rich I was. The problem with this conversation was that she was absolutely right. In the grand scheme of things, compared to the rest of the world, I am richer than something like 3% of the people on the planet. Even though I didn’t have the money for my complete mani, pedi, and waxing ritual, and even though I was being “frugal” by just getting an eyebrow wax….here I was. Rich.

Sigh.

As I get closer to my trip to Haiti, my finances are feeling the most strain they’ve ever felt. The rumors are true: running your own business is as difficult as they say. And yet I am doing my best to remain focused and worry less about money. It’s difficult, I won’t lie. I am going out less, and can’t help but feel like my friends think I don’t want to hang out with them. I take taxis less, and walk more because I live in Midtown Manhattan and can walk to many of the places I need to go. I’m working the MTA by subwaying to my destination and then busing my way home. I’m giving myself manicures and stretching out my bi-monthly pedicures to every 6-8 weeks (you don’t even wanna know how gross this makes me feel lol). I even briefly went back to processed foods because they were considerably cheaper than healthy organic fresh produce. I am doing my best to be a more responsible adult and pay for bare necessities so I can pay off debts and make rent every month. Needless to say, I feel broke in every way of life right now.

Today I went back to the nail salon to see Michelle for my routine eyebrow wax, as I found myself back in LA, four weeks since my last visit. I spoke to the same receptionist, and though I doubt she remembers our last conversation, I remembered it. Broker than I was the last time I saw her, I was reminded that I am indeed, rich.

Richer than the vast majority of the people on this planet.

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