Sunday, October 29, 2006

License to Dream

Like millions of other people last Friday, I bought a few EuroMillions tickets. I know the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math, but when you start to think of the possibility, however slim, of 120 million euro making its way into your bank account, well, it's hard to resist.

I don't play the lottery obsessively or anything, but I'll usually handover two euro for a ticket when the jackpot is above 30 or 40 million. As far as I'm concerned, that two euro buys me a license to daydream. When the bus is stuck in traffic, I can let my mind drift away, to imagine what it would be like to have a life-changing amount of money fall into your lap.

I usually check my numbers in the morning, using the Lotto web site. I check the prize breakdown, so before I even look at my ticket, I know if any Irish tickets have the numbers for the larger prizes.

I imagine seeing that an Irish ticket has won the jackpot, and then looking at my own numbers, my disbelief and excitement growing as one after the next, the numbers on my pink and white paper match the numbers on my laptop screen.

I imagine getting to the Lucky Stars and only having one match. I can live with that, a few hundred thousand euro would be quite nice. But then I imagine getting to the Lucky Stars and realizing that I have both of them. Every number on the ticket matches. Every last one. What I imagine feeling is relief – utter and overwhelming relief to know that I will never have to worry about bills or debts or money ever again.

In my daydream, I head straight to the store and buy a fireproof safe. Then I wait, rather impatiently, for an appropriate hour to wake Peter up. I know – you'd think I'd just start yelling and jumping around as soon as the realization has sunk in. But I'm just not like that. I'd want to have a few hours of being normal before everything changed. So I'd want to wake Peter up as usual for a Saturday – with tea and toast at a decent, civilised hour. Then, when we was properly awake, I would spring the big news on him.

Peter and I have has this conversation, about the first thing we'd buy. I am incredibly boring and unimaginative. The first thing I'd want to do is clear up my student loans. My thought process on spending the proceeds is rather like me – linear, practical, responsible. Pay off debts, take care of family members, put the greater chunk into some sort of safe investment to live off of the interest. In the States, my daydreams were so utterly practical – I calculated the tax owed before allowing myself to think about spending even a single penny. I love that over here, you are considered to have paid tax on the wager, so any winnings are then tax-free.

In terms of what I'd want to buy – a house in Dublin, a summer house somewhere down the country, furnishings (especially an Aga and a KitchenAid mixer), a VW Polo and some dogs. Peter makes fun of me because even with a fat bank balance, I'd still just like a VW Polo for zipping around town. It's little, cute, easy to drive, and fun. What more could a girl want?

The biggest bonus wouldn't be having stuff – it would be having the freedom to pursue my interests. My whole life could be about my hobbies. I could hire a trainer and a hurling coach and a nutritionist. I could pay an Irish teacher to come out to the house every day. I could have an office where I could write, uninterrupted, for hours every day. Peter worries that not having to work would corrupt him and make him lazy. I don't have that fear at all – having the time and resources to pursue my goals – I can't think of a better prize.


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