This week we’re doing it again. It’s For Richer, For Poorer week, Part II. Last time, we talked a lot about money: discussing it as women, sharing it in marriage, money and gay marriage (and why we need to change the law), multiple layoffs as a couple, and prenups. This week we really wanted to discuss financial hardship: What happens when you don’t have enough money to go around? How does your relationship grow and change? (And don’t worry, we’re totally going to talk about not having enough money to eat and other real kickers of life.) Today we’re starting out with Rory of Rory Gordon Photo (she made that awesome video of the LA stop on my book tour) talking about being young, broke, and married. I find this topic interesting because just a generation ago, it was assumed that you would probably be young and broke when you got hitched. That was fine. Great even. But somehow marriage has become the province of the well off. Which is nonsense. So this afternoon, Rory will be back with a wordless wedding of their DIY-Photo elopement at a courthouse wedding. Let’s discuss.
I’m a freelancer, and I’m 24. And married. To another freelancer. Who is also 24.
Which is a PC way to say, “We’re pretty much broke all the time.”
Despite the slow-going money situation, our careers are going really well and we’re pretty damn happy. I tell you, the most unexpected benefit of being married, beyond the huge break on our car insurance and the “if-you’re-hit-by-a-bus-I-can-pull-your-plug-without-explaining-our-relationship-to-nurses” benefit (which is really important, right? Everybody needs that benefit), has been growing our goals together. And goals don’t feed on money, thank goodness.
Before I got married, I heard and read a lot about growing up together when you get married young, which I thought meant learning to share chores and balance newly combined books together. And pick up your f*cking socks (me) and learning to clean the goddamned stove (him).
I heard and read a lot about getting your career in line before getting married. I heard and read it was responsible to be completely financially self-solvent before getting married. I heard your biggest goals and your loftiest dreams happened while you were still single.
I’m very happy that hasn’t been true for us.
Being married as we start out broke-as-a-joke has given us great parameters. We both have very limited income to reinvest in our businesses and our marriage, so we talk about everything, whether we’re deciding if one of us needs new gear or whether we should spring for a hotel when we go home for our belated wedding reception (answer: yes, duh, we are not spending our wedding reception night anywhere that doesn’t encourage walking around naked). That precedent of talking about money all the time, with transparency and while keeping our financial status separate from our relationship status is priceless. Money is just a thing that we want some of, and the lack of its presence while we continue to grow up together has been at times a blessing in disguise.
The money thing can lead us to feel like it’s impossible to be spontaneous, but that can easily be fixed by turning a trip to Target into an adventure. (You have five dollars to buy materials to create a spy accessory. Proceed with awesome.)
Whenever I am stuck while editing a video, I find it helps to change locations and just see something new. That’s what James does for me when I’m stuck with my career and my lack of capital, and I hope it’s what I do for him. When I’m frustrated because I can’t buy a macro lens just yet, or a Merlin or a fisheye or whatever it is I’m lusting after, I look at what he’s doing and I see how he’s planning beyond the item or the service we can’t afford just yet. The seemingly huge parameter of our tight budget keeps us focused on the big picture.
And that has made my dreams even bigger. When I moved to Los Angeles, I thought my dream was to work on movies, period. Didn’t matter whose, and it didn’t matter how I was treated. But now after nearly two years living with my favorite person in the world in one of the biggest cities in the world, I see it’s not outrageous to dream about working together in the future and making our own damn movies. I didn’t have the lady parts to say that out loud a year ago, and thanks to our sticky budget, I’m no longer trying to penny pinch a new lens out of very little money, and I’m worried instead about us making the most solid work out of what we have right now.
We’re making something out of nothing, and because of that every day feels like a victory, something completely unique to us, and something we deserve every last second of. And it’s fun to celebrate every time we pay rent, even if it’s only a trip to Target.
Photo by: Moodeous Photography