From Our Readers
March 22, 2016 10:54 am
Getty Images / Trina Dalziel

Every February, right after my birthday, I head down the avenue to get my taxes done before the crowd takes over in April. Because I’m single and live alone, it’s imperative I have someone good handle my finances. After years of traveling when I was unable to live in one place long enough to do a simple tax return, I finally found stability and a great accountant. Even though you can get your taxes done online, there’s a part of me that needs the whole experience. The firm is located close to my house, nestled between Irish pubs and bodegas and the last remnants of old Brooklyn. It’s a family business, and when I get there I take a seat and wait — it’s inevitable that shortly after, a family member will start talking to me, joking around, making me feel like I am part of something, not just there to crunch numbers.

My accountant is named Rich, and that’s exactly what he makes me (relatively speaking, since I am a teacher). He’s a short Italian man, with an incredible sense for deductions and a surprisingly soft heart. I took off my scarf and realized that once again, I had lost my new favorite earring — the one my mother bought me a few days ago.

Irritated, I asked if anyone saw my missing earring. Of course, it leads into a discussion, the kind only strangers in New York can devise. “I walked around with one earring all day and no one told me, they thought I was trying out a new look,” the receptionist recounted. “I got my wallet back, but all the cash was gone,” the woman next to me chimed in. Each one sharing a vignette of something lost. I tried desperately not to obsess over the earring when Rich called me to the back.

“Rabinowitz, Rabinowitz, and Rabinowitz!” he said loudly. He says this every year, our inside joke only relatable to those who grew up in the 70’s and recognize the reference from the sitcom All in The Family.

I sat down on the black chair and didn’t have to say a word. Rich remembered every single facet of my life. He asked about each one.

“How’s working at that school of yours?”

“I finally got a new job, that principal was killing me,” I told him. “She tried to write me up for attending too many funerals and I realized my life could not be spent with people like that.”

“What else is new?”

“I’m writing now, and I love it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, it doesn’t pay much but I’m doing well.”

“Good for you, you should do what you love,” he said. “You realize this is the first time in 5 years you haven’t asked me how you are going to buy the apartment next door and combine it?

“It was finally purchased so I had to let it go,” I told him.

For a minute, I forgot I was at an accounting office and not in therapy. I suddenly realized all the things I have been complaining about over the years, and how some things had just worked themselves out. My old job, which had been such an emotional drain, was finally over, and I was now working with people who respected and appreciated me. My home which I had desperately wanted to make bigger and better, was really just fine as it was.

Every year I had gone with a list of what I wanted. This year, without realizing it, I had gotten everything I needed.

“What should I do next?” I asked as if he was the great oracle.

Rich crinkled his forehead.

“Just be,” he said. “You’re always going here and there, and life is pretty good right now, try not changing and see what happens,” he told me.

He printed up my returns, gave me a pink pen with the company’s logo on it and thanked me for coming. I realized that coming to see Rich and this office was a symbol of stability in my hectic life. A place that I come once a year, and during that visit, I’m like a child, etching a pencil mark of how much I’ve grown since the year before. This year was the highest leap.

This time last year, my finances and my life were at an all time low. I nearly went into debt trying to pay for fertility treatments that left me broke and hopeless. I hadn’t even told my own family about this, but somehow I’d found myself opening up to my accountant.

In signing the returns this time, I was happy to see a large refund. I realized that the smallest line on the income sheet was for writing, a mere $400.00 for months of agonizing works. Yet, it was the biggest and most joyful thing in my life.

Somehow, in the past year, I managed to get out of debt and move on in my life. I stopped worrying about money and pushed myself, found out what I could do. I’d learned that writing would save me in ways I didn’t know I needed saving.  That working hard and staying still could create a growth that I didn’t realize was possible.

“Just be,” echoed as I walked to my car.

I looked down the street, and there was my silver earring.  I picked it up and brushed off the dirt. It had been stepped on but was still wearable. This year, the only thing I’d lost was my therapist. But really, I didn’t need her. She charged me $100 an hour and it wasn’t the best fit; I never left feeling better. Rich’s fee was $250 for an entire year, plus I got a free pen. You do the math.

Elana Rabinowitz is a writer and teacher of English as a second language. She’s a born and bred New Yorker, world traveler and lover of anything Brooklyn. Follow her on Twitter and check out her website.
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