Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Biggest Check I Never Wrote

I've written some pretty big checks in my day.

First of all, my husband and I, already in our 30s, paid for our wedding. That was, at the time, the biggest check we ever wrote.

Then, we bought a house. Wow. That was one big check.

Then I started a business. Besides writing checks to pay my team and for expenses like photography, printing and postage, I have to write checks to the U.S. Treasury and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Every quarter. For thirteen years.

In terms of money, actual numerical digits committed to paper, these were all big checks. Really big checks. But, last week my daughter — officially — committed to the college of her choice. After a quick back and forth with her admissions officer about whether she might qualify for work-study at the school's stable (she does!), we took a deep breath and sent them a deposit. The concept of college was suddenly very real. So, in terms of significance and emotional weight, that may have been the biggest check I ever wrote.

Except I didn't.

You see, there wasn't any actual writing or any actual check. I paid my daughter's college deposit online. With a Visa.

I'm a self-confessed "Analog Girl" (a nickname that my man Jim Steinman got such a kick out of — yeah, he and I are besties now). Living in a paperless world is a constant source of disappointment. I actually like ticket stubs and theatre playbills, postcards, mementos, physical magazines. I have files of my old report cards, Dean's List notifications, and term papers. I have all my diaries from the fourth grade on. And photo albums. Actual, leather-bound, acid-free photo albums.

And, no, I'm not a hoarder.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the convenience, money-savings or immediate gratification that the digital world gives us. My agency earns at least half its revenue creating websites and email marketing programs for our clients. But, when something has sentimental value, I like that something to be some thing.

My daughter, a determined millenial who "Fips" every day pretty much from the time she gets up to the time she goes back down, has inherited some tiny shred of my predisposition toward actual reality. When she started hearing back from colleges last fall, she was surprised and a little downcast to realize that her acceptance letters weren't letters at all. For the most part, she was notified by email or — even worse — by an email that linked her to a password-protected prospective student portal.

So much for the fat envelopes we all prayed for back in the 1970s and 80s.

The world is changing and — whether we like it or not — it's taking us with it. So, we had better make the best of it.
Soon, she'll be 762 miles away and it just occurred to me that I can rack up a lot of miles if I put her entire tuition on a credit card. And I know I'll welcome the occasional Skype or FaceTime.

But, I haven't completely surrendered. I'll be buying stamps too. Lots of stamps.

If you've enjoyed this post, I invite you to order the book Lovin' the Alien here.     

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