Start Intimidatingly attractive

Intimidatingly attractive

First it was just that one credit card, and then, when that one was maxed out, it was two. Fresh out of highschool, I skipped the whole college route and had instead found a sales job that “let” me work six, sometimes seven, days a week, 10–12 hours a day. I celebrated my first big promotion at age 22 the same way I imagined anyone would: I built a house in the suburbs, financed with 0% down.

My friends and family started noticing my changed demeanor, too. It took two laser-focused years to eliminate 80% of my debt, and after I left my career as I approached age 30, I took a sizable pay cut, but I still focused on paying down the debt, spending two years slapping around that remaining 20%, never losing sight of the freedom that hid behind it.

I don’t even consider using my credit card—not anymore at least.

The snow keeps calm everything outside the windows, huge flakes like wet chips of white paint peeling off the sky.

It wasn’t just any old house, though; it was an oversized, two-story monstrosity, complete with three bedrooms, two livingrooms, and a full-size basement (the ping-pong table I never used came later, also financed). But I was so hyper-focused on my supposedly impressive career that I hardly remember the ceremony.

I know it rained that day, and that my bride was beautiful, and I remember fleeing to Mexico for our (financed) honeymoon after the wedding, but I can’t recall much else.

But I’ve got nothing, no words—my mouth, a swordless sheath.

I pull out my wallet to pay, peeling a few singles from my thin stack.

Each item had brought with it a twinge of excitement at the check-out line, but the thrill always waned shortly after each purchase, and by the time the credit-card statements arrived, I was overwhelmed with guilt, a strange kind of buyer’s remorse.