Recently, a very good friend practically begged me to go to Istanbul with him. Everything seemed to line up: the timing was great and he was generously offering to cover the cost of my accommodations. I’ve been dying to go to Istanbul for years; every friend who’s visited has returned dazzled, raving about the food and the electric nightlife, the fusion of European and Arab sensibilities. And spring makes me — along with almost everyone else I know — even more restless than usual. I want stretch my legs and turn my face to the sun, preferably while eating a falafel on the street in between browsing for reasonably priced textiles.
I generally don’t have to be asked twice when it comes to going anywhere. Offer me the chance to run off to Montreal for the weekend, and I can be packed and in the car in under 15 minutes. But this time, I hesitated. I agonized over the decision for days. Crunching numbers on my calculator, trying to cost out my daily expenses, looking longingly at online pictures of Istanbul’s markets, boutique hotels and glorious skyline all lit up at night.
I wanted to go — I want, in fact, to do pretty much everything. But I’ve finally come to the very adult realization that I can’t do everything — and that I can’t jeopardize some of my longer-term dreams to run off anytime I get a pretty great-sounding offer. I checked the hard-earned figures in my bank account again and again, thinking about all of the things I want to do, and realized there just isn’t enough money for Istanbul.
Finally, after considerable hemming and hawing, I phoned my friend to deliver my regrets. He was disappointed but understanding, and I felt a little sick over passing up such a great opportunity. But then something else happened. Shortly after hanging up the phone, I was awash with relief and pride. In the past, I probably would have just said yes and then dealt with the stomachache that would come with worrying about my finances. But this time, my ability to control my impulses made me feel like an adult with both a plan and a real respect for all of the work that went into the savings I’ve actually been able to amass. It actually made me happy to say no to short-term fun in favour of longer-term goals.
Weird. Guess I’m all grown up…