There is no shame in being poor. One is spared having to make choices all the time. When one has money, one enters shops and stores and is always deciding this or that, or not this or not that. One is constantly making these sorts of decisions, deciding whether or not to buy the many things upon the shelves, things that wait there to be bought by my hands reaching up or by someone else’s. Whether to buy a pair of cashmere gloves or not. Because I like cashmere. Whether to buy a hand-made silk camisole from France for a lover. Because doing so is romantic, soft, and sexy. Whether to buy organic avocados. Because they taste best. In being poor I am free to wander in and out of stores. Hello, Tarik! And spend a half hour talking with him about his school days in North Africa. Hello, Suzy! And in between her holiday customers, I flirt with her only to flatter away the time, and do nothing else before leaving. It is such a relief! Everybody else is so busy with their noses in the classic or the best-seller books in bookstores they are reading and skimming with their noses deep in them for their boyfriends this year who will not be their boyfriends this time next year and they will have to put their noses in another book again the same way (making sure to only themselves—for who else would ever know?—that it is not the same book as last year, or the year or the boyfriend or the book before that) for all these different boyfriends, book after book, year after year. The floral- or fruit-scented bath soaps husbands must buy their wives which they do so out of a perennial symbol of the season’s obligation, whose failure to have done so would become a breach of custom tempting back-turned upon wordlessness at night (and no act of sex to indicate that all is well conjugally as it should be) before going to sleep, I am completely spared of too. If it is a new wife, so much the worse, and all the more difficult. Getting it right. Pleasing her. All is so fraught. I am spared it completely. I will wander on my own to the woods and with a bow saw cut down a small green tree since I cannot afford even to buy one from the local Christmas tree lot this year. And the sense of relief I feel from not having to make any of these choices this year to me is so great, I almost shudder when I remember, when I recall, having had lots of money once and being able to buy, had I wanted to, a fir tree twenty feet tall; had I wished to, buying expensive German designer shirts, and hand-crafted beeswax candles sweetly burning away my lost nights of love and languor. How free I am now that this gone. Gone! To be totally stripped of choice! To be in a position of cannot. All this is gone from me! When I wake, tomorrow I will walk alone across the causeway, my eyes looking across the flat wide open lake the wind has already passed over.