Tax Season: Taking Account


It’s here again — this familiar melancholic moment: Knees bent unforgivingly over the wooden floor of my living room, brows furrowed in mean concentration, shoulders pinched together in a manner sure to give me medical problems later in life – a permanent hunchback, a crushed vertebrae, some ailment my mother tried to warn me about that I, as her daughter, dutifully ignored. My hands move tiny crumples of paper from one pile to the next, organizing the last 365 days of my life into monetized memories.

Tax season always depresses me.

For many, receipts are simply things that you throw in the garbage immediately after a purchase, useless evidence of income outflow you never think about again. But for me, as a freelancer with a fistful of W2s and 1099s, you have to hold onto these receipts as proof of business expenses. And, at the end of every year, you are forced to revisit these numbers, these days, these carbon copy slips. They collectively become an accidental diary, a happenstance record of the passage of time. Which, is a nightmare for a person who tends to dwell on things enough as it is.

I rummage through the piles. The horror show of a medical fiasco last January with lab fees that now come with the memory of walking towards a hospital against a bitter, bitter wind, listening to Van Morrison on loop and crying like a child. The little French subway tickets for the rattling Paris underground, drinking $20 cups of coffee at the Hotel Le Meurice. Two rounds of gas for the car rental to Vermont last fall, sleeping in a B&B owned by a widow from Barbados, watching a valley turn blood red and orange over the course of two days. Heaps of lacy black underwear, hopefully purchased but hopelessly unused. The scattered notes of late-night lunatics, the taxis back home from loves that went nowhere. The wine. The wine. The wine. Oh, 2013, where did you go?

For the time being, there is no escaping these two hours every winter, feeling the responsibility of my citizenship and the weight of old history. One day I will get an accountant, and I can live in the present moment in perpetuity, throwing receipts and recollections to the wind, never again having to deal of with the rehashing of inner turmoil for the sake of the Internal Revenue Service.

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