I’m a packrat. If someone tells me that I shouldn’t keep the tiny, black patent leather ballet shoes that I wore when I was five, I’m going to point to my father and the love-worn teddy bear that he’s kept since his childhood. My packrattedness (uh, yeah – that’s going to be a word for today’s purpose) is something that’s as ingrained in me as my tendency to believe that deer, like state troopers, tend to roam in pairs. If you see one deer cross the road, there’s another one sure to follow. Same with police cars – that’s advice that you can take to the bank, courtesy of my dear old dad.
Given this tendency to keep everything, it did not surprise me the other day when I found a letter I had received a year ago when I paid off my first credit card that was enrolled along with others in my debt management program. It was tucked in with photos, ticket stubs – the stuff that usually ends up in my scrapbooks. It’s a form letter, nothing fancy, but it congratulates me on paying off this balance and showing that my balance on this long-held credit card (we’re talking the year 2000, folks) was finally at zero. I can’t say that this letter will ever be trophied in one of my numerous scrapbooks, but stranger things have happened – I’ve kept and scrapbooked hate mail that I received when I was a journalist. (I’m kind of odd … this is my proof that my life was cool and adventurous at one point. But some of those letters are witty and well-written … I can’t throw those away!)
So why do I keep this letter? Like that semester in college that I spent in a foreign country, this whole debt reduction is a journey. Because I used to rely on credit cards and now that I’ve been burned this much and have spent so much time paying off my debt, I don’t think I’d take a credit card if you offered it to me on a silver platter and with a 0% interest rate. This letter from a former creditor is like that pack of matches I saved from that hotel in Rome – memories of where I once was.
More letters are in my future, but this letter represents the first step in a long line of paces that I will take.
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