Money is a funny old thing. It has the uncanny ability to be both real and imagined, hidden and omnipresent, enabling and terrifying, and to mean everything and nothing, all at the very same time - and often both at once.
Despite its rollercoaster state through and around my existence, money has been a strange form of constant in my life in one balance or another for as long as I can remember. Inflections of money shimmer in memories scrapbooked throughout my life: from clawing at the chocolate coins in my Christmas stocking each year as a kid, saving my tiny after school job pay packets for a pair of surf brand jeans, counting shrapnel at the checkout counter in the first year of uni, through to balancing my current credit card repayment tsunami against the weekly day care bills, money has been a constant companion on my journey through life, marriage and parenting.
In amongst the rabble of work, marriage and parenting an increasingly rambunctious toddler, I often find myself descending into a day dream about money. In between the hits and misses of every day life, I imagine how I would let loose and splash out if the magical rainbow of life ever accidentally got inebriated, tilted on its axis and dropped a pot of money into my unsuspecting lap - much like the $50,000 bucket currently on offer from Mortgage Choice in their $50k Giveaway, open to borrowers who settle a home loan of $150,000 or more with Mortgage Choice before 31 January 2016.
When I through my tepid afternoon coffee at my messy desk, or trying to refrain from showering vulgar obscenities and not-so-gentle thumps at the obstinate photocopier in the office for the fifteenth time in a single day, I swear black and blue I would drop the full sweet $50,000 on setting up my own business in an unblinking instant. In one sweet, big spending swoop, I would give myself 50,000 cool reasons to drop out of the daily grind and be my own boss. No start times, no imposed deadlines, no office biscuit tin battles, no daily grand prix battle along the commuter congested freeways, through ways, tram ways and no ways of the suburban, urban pack.
When I find myself fighting sleep on the packed homeward bound commute each afternoon, petrified of drooling on my fellow passengers and missing my fleeting stop on the dreadfully long line home, I imagine using my dreamy pot of gold to pack up my urban life and fit my little piece of the sea change puzzle into the quiet life whole. I dream of breaking up the balance across packing boxes, removalists, estate agents and fuel to get from the high rise scape out to the low rise escape, with enough left in the bag to lower through the gears until it's quiet enough to hear nothing but the birds in the backyard and the kettle on the stove calling cuppa time.
When I re-enter the same toddler-toddled, exhaustion-soddled domestic orbit each evening, I find myself traipsing the imaginary money fantastic again. In the midst of pleading with my two year old to please stop throwing her dinner at the dog, please take her pyjama pants back off her yoghurt covered head, and just darn well go and make good with her arch nemesis Sleepy Nod, I momentarily let myself wonder just how far $50,000 could go in au pair services. How many minutes, hours, breaths, glasses of wine, family-sized blocks of chocolate and snatches of tantalising parental sanity, could a single pot of wishful gold potentially deliver back to me over the next sixteen odd years?
When I find myself retrieving furry sultanas out of the couch cushions for the umpteenth time in no time, extricating mashed purple crayon from the dogs fur, or inexplicably pulling crispy dolls clothes out of the toddler-height chest freezer, I imagine spending $50,000 to buy myself a lifetime of cleanliness. How sweet and eternally vacuum-bagless it would be to place a Mary Poppins style advertisement up on the web, calling for a cleaning angel with a magic bag full of shine, dust, polish and de-sultana powers to simply come in and take care of business while I do 50,000 blissfully unrelated things.
When the long afternoons and longer commutes, the frazzled evenings and the mutating sultanas all become too much, I find myself sliding into the warmth of my tropical holiday day dream. I flick from travel website to adventure blogs and back again, dreaming of the places I could go if I simply had no place to go. If I had $50,000 land in my play dough and coffee stained lap, I would happily stomp into the travel agents office, lay $50,000 sweet ones down on the table and demand somewhere, anywhere, with sand and cocktails, and flee the shackles of reality to live happily ever after, mojito in one hand and receipt in the other.
Yet when the dreams fade and the bath water gets cold and the time comes to get ready for bed and prepare for another week at the desk and another week being mum to my family, I realise that my day dreams tucker out at night along with the daily exhaustion and suburban grit and frizz.
If I somehow managed to stumble across $50,000 one day, I probably would momentarily hover outside the travel agents with my bank card hot in my hand, itching to get going to go get. Then, after one last fleeting arc of day dream, I would turn on my work heels and plunge the whole glimmering bundle into a mortgage on my very own piece of inner-outer suburban space and place: a roof to sleep my tired body under, a verandah to dream my day dreams upon, a maze of walls to store our toddler artworks along, a lounge room to stash our furry sultanas in, a house to make a home from.
Well, $49,970 at least. Rounded out with $30 on an average bottle of sauvignon blanc, a family-sized block of chocolate and a travel mag from the local shops on the way home.
How would you spend $50,000 in a day?