If we were having coffee….
I would probably struggle at not sounding like Debbie Downer; it’s not been the best week.
Which isn’t to say it hasn’t had moments of light, but it’s been a week of homesickness, honestly, and missing the friends and family who understand me and love me anyway.
Wednesday we had our taxes done and may I just say, South Carolina has cornered the market on things taxable. It’s been an awakening. I sure hope they use some of our tax dollars on luring a decent Mexican restaurant chain here with fat tax incentives. I would settle for a Rosa’s or Torchy’s at this point, but if they’re going to tax us for turning around on a Friday, we need comfort food to drown our sorrows in.
We had a complicated tax year, so thought it better for a professional to handle our return. We were promptly greeted at Big Box Tax Prep Place by a tiny, birdlike woman around our age with short, thin, purple hair blown standing straight up all over her head. Taking comfort in her age, so near our own, I hoped it hinted at a long career in accountancy and not content with this fantasy, I took it further in guessing the eccentricity of purple hair indicative of someone nerdy enough to be capable of enjoying both math and tax preparation.
It is amazing how very, very wrong my flights of fancy can be.
The first sign of trouble was the blank stare, then terrified widening of her bright blue eyes as Paul produced one document after another from our carefully organized file folder. Relocation, home purchase, savings bonds, dividends, the health savings account; with every new piece of paper, it’s title given in Paul’s deep, clear voice her eyes got a little wider, a little more frightened. One more wrinkle and she’ll go tharn, I thought, just as he reached the end.
She was not having a good day. Sighing and talking to her computer screen for the bulk of the input, she eventually explained that a friend had just died and she was struggling with “new” software. I wanted to believe these things accounted for her lack of any obvious organizational skills, anti-methodical data input style, and basic ignorance of mathematics, such as when the first review of our return showed twice the amount of our health savings account.
“It’s the health savings account. You entered it on the wrong line, so it doubled it. Just go back and change that,” my old bank teller skills were coming in handy and she sighed with relief when it worked. Paul was vibrating with the effort of self-control, so I kept my voice light and calm. We had reached the point it was dangerous if he interacted much with her.
At first blush, it looked like we were getting a small return – hurray! – but we didn’t have the checkbook. In the time it took me to go directly across the street to our bank and get the routing number, say, five minutes, we suddenly owed several thousand dollars. I thought it best if I didn’t leave again.
Eventually we worked through it, I rubbing Paul’s back and feeding him Advil, talking soothingly to our tax prep lady, Paul and I answering “YES!” in enthusiastic unison to the purchase of an insurance package covering us in the event of an audit. We signed and walked out at the break-even point, with our poor sweet tax-bird’s request we please rate her highly should we receive a survey call, chirping in our ear. Gosh I hope we don’t get the survey call.
We stopped for coffee, then went for a long walk through Saluda Shoals Park; it was a spectacularly beautiful day with dogwoods blooming and sunlight bouncing off the water. Just what the doctor ordered after tax prep hell.
Three of five adult children have Worrisome Things going on in their lives. We try not to obsess, we really do but, it is hard.
Yesterday, storms ripped through and toppled over my tiny greenhouse, destroying all my kitchen herb seedlings. It’s early enough in Spring to begin again, but disheartening. I’ve always been crap with plants and it feels like God telling me, “Gardening isn’t one of the gifts I gave you. You know this. It’s why you were born after I invented production farming and grocery stores. It’s not as if I didn’t think it through.”
But one of my gifts is stubbornness, another a sometimes unreasonable optimism, so after this next cup of coffee I will get more parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme seeds and begin again. It’s what I do.