It all started a about a year ago when I happened to cross paths with a peculiar man. He had an air of unapproachability to him, but after accidentally crashing into him while swinging a corner after work (it was always a battle to get to the parking lot, there was only one way in and out, and there were over 400 cars parked underground…), we both landed our on butts and lamented that we would be stuck in the parking lot for another hour.
“Ah shoot, there goes my chance to watch my show as it airs. Ugh…oh no. Miss, are you alright? I’m sorry for crashing into you there, I’m sure we had the same reason in mind…”, the man said as he evil-eyed the closing elevator door down the hall. Then his eyes returned back to me and widened as he realized there was something there he had not noticed initially.
“That’s a cool sweater! Board Art Offline is one of my favorite shows, too! I like the nice touch though: it’s subtle, most people wouldn’t realize that sweater is from a dorky show like that.”
My eyes widened too as I realized what this meant. Someone else who enjoyed the same nerdy hobby as me.
After our coincidental run-in, we started getting to know each other. As I was busy with work and my side-projects as was he, we never got to meet as often as we liked. Coupled with already ongoing responsibilities and friendships, the times we did meet were brief yet mesmerizing. Something about the things we spoke about was amazing: he was speaking of ideals and futures he was chasing towards everyday. Me, I was nowhere near as passionate: I had my hobbies and I wish I had more time to do them all. One of them was making art: it didn’t rake in the dough, but it did give me great pleasure to create and distribute at hobby conventions and online. Ahasuerus caught wind of this and decided to visit my booth at one of these conventions.
“This work is amazing, and quite a steal for the price too! Are you taking commissions? There’s something I’d love for you to make.”
And so I made the art as requested, and received $100 of bitcoin on a small “hardware wallet” as he called it.
“Keep it safe, that money is going to change your life sooner than you realize. Plan out what you’re going to to do with all that money, I’d hate to see someone as great as you letting it corrupt you.”
That was almost a year ago, a today we are meeting again. Ahasuerus suddenly called me out out the blue, and since it’s been a while since seeing one another, I was happy to undertake the endeavor. My back leans against the railing he water’s edge of a cute little harbor outside the East Coast city when I see Ahasuerus waving over as he approaches. He reaches where I’m standing, and leans over the railing instead of leaning back like I do. The sun begins to set over the water’s edge as he begins, reflecting a bright and long streak of light as the sky behind it begins to purple.
“You look fantastic for someone who’s about to retire tomorrow, Esther! I’m glad I made the right choice in helping you. In fact, you’ve helped me out a lot more than you realize over the past year…” Ahasuerus trails off as he start, scratching the back of his neck subtly.
“I came to meet you to announce my decision.”
Ahasuerus takes a deep breathe to dramatize the news.
“I’m leaving to go out west.”, Ahasuerus exhales after releasing all the tension in his body. My cheery attitude was overcome with shock and surprise: what was with this sudden decision?
“I’ve been thinking about this a lot… quite a lot, as I spend all my free time mulling over things unfortunately, and I was wondering how I would feeling about getting to today. In more ways than one, this money has changed my life. Those $100 bitcoin I gave you were just a drop in the bucket for what I had bought, which was all that I had. But I guess I talked a bit too much, and now more than ever it seems as though I’m popular….” Ahasuerus laughs nervously and he scratches the back of his neck once more.
“I’ve seen the way how this cryptocurrency has changed the life of its owners and the people around them… a lot of them were people nice guys and girls, but once they had more than they ever dreamed of, they stopped being… them. It’s almost like the money overcame them, and it overcame their friends and family too. Just today, I had three calls from distant “aunts” and “uncles” who have never once contacted me prior to this. They had all these tear-jerking stories about how they found out I have money and how I can help them pay off a debt, pay for an operation, make a donation to something they deeply care about, and the list goes on and on. Even today I had a mini-panic attack as a cousin who lives nearby waited at my doorstep for me to arrive so we can “hang out and catch up”… it’s kind of revolting, really. I really want to help them, I really do, but a lot of these people were those I tried to convince before bitcoin was popular. They laughed and scoffed at me, telling me I was wasting my time and money on imaginary internet gold… and now the turns have tabled.” Ahasuerus shrugs in exhaustion, and I now notice how tired he looks.
“I actually got one more call today before I got here. It was a man with one of those voice modifiers calling to confirm my name and address. Apparently the company that created that hardware wallet you’re holding had a data breach and exposed all their customers’ order information… but you got yours from me, so thankfully you’re not in any danger,” Ahasuerus exhaled in a sign of relief.
“But I think that last bit was the kicker I needed to commit to the next step. Now that I have the means to be free, I want to take full advantage of it while I’m young. It took me a LONG time to realize, especially when it seems like everyone I go, wealth is glamorized while the ugly truths keeps allowing the wool to be pulled over our eyes. We are young, we are time billionaires, and we have something that we will never get back. Money can be gained and lost, that’s just a part of life. What matters more is the memories we make with the time we do have…” Ahasuerus pauses thoughtfully.
“I don’t want to be someone who chases zeroes the rest of his life or is burdened by the debts and loans offered by these zero holders. I was thinking about this quite a lot, and I realized I needed a dream. I needed somewhere to move towards everyday, a place I could be myself without the worries of being under others to make ends meet. And someplace like that… seems like it’s not here…” Ahasuerus pauses once more.
“There’s a strange fellow I met over the Internet in passing on a message board. As outlandish as you claim to me to be, this guy is completely off his rocker, but he was actually the one to turn me onto bitcoin and lots of other neat ideas. He sees things that no one else sees and is continually ridiculed because of it, but now he’s made it off just one idea. Now that’s he’s made it, he’s working towards the next step: building a community of meaning, composed of members who have immense untapped potential inside of them. Something like that… seems nice. I want to check it out. Maybe there is where I find what I’m finally looking for…”
The scene becomes silent. A small number of seagulls squawk in int he distance as they fly around in circles over the setting sun.
“But I think I’ve said enough. How about you, Esther, are you ready to take the next step? In fact: scratch that, I KNOW you are ready for the next step. You told me something beautiful, a dream so selfless and honest it actually bought me to tears when you first told me… that was pretty hard to admit honestly, I have to put up a front for others, ya know,” Ahasuerus teases.
Finally, I allow myself to speak.
“The journey is going to be hard, Ahasuerus, and I have no idea where to start. But seeing you so committed to exploring the unknowns to find yourself, is helping me find the courage needed to overcome my own limiters. Let’s both work hard together, and I expect you to be here on the grand opening of my charity for after-school artists.”
“Absolutely! I eagerly await the day I can book the first flight over to see just how you decide to make this dream come to life.”
This was a weekly crossover post between Sandbox Zero and the Altspace VR Writing Group.
Sandbox Zero’s topic was Money and Self
ASVR Writing Group’s Prompt was politics.