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'confessions of a shopaholic'

by Monica Laryea

when I was a kid the monsters under my bed were all green, gray, and blue. with their textbook faces and serial teeth, they’d dance across the walls marking everything that I called mine. that’s what made them scary—how big they could get and how much they could hide.

i sometimes wonder how long my money anxiety has lived with me. I wonder if it watched me in the womb worrying about what jobs my parents would hold, if I’d afford a T10, and when rent would be paid. I wonder if it watched me squirm in my incubator babbling about being just fine with taking a mat on the floor as long as it was free. I wonder if it watched me scan the kid's menu comparing prices as I colored in shapes and mazes. I wonder how long money has ruled my imagination.

my first job was at a pizza place. I never thought money could buy happiness until I started making $7.50 an hour. that summer will forever be memorialized by ASOS hauls, overpriced pizza, and those Georgia summer uber rides where everything burned until I looked down and realized we were phoenixes.

i was 16 and for the first time, money didn’t hurt so much in fact, who knew minimum wage could be so sweet? gone was the cringing and the sighing and in its place was a rush of sickly fleeting joy. everytime i cashed a check, I felt a bit closer to who I wanted to be through the things I’d never had. maybe I was cursed like this.

maybe, my Ghanian blood runs gold not red considering our culture is defined by abundance in food, family, and finance. it rules everything—land disputes, philanthropy, church offerings. ‘we are only what we leave behind’ my mother would tell me, and maybe in that way she was cursed too. all of us, damned to mausoleums of old shoes and worn furniture. what expensively cheap legacies to leave behind.

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