I say “on” because you should not necessarily feel indebted to the particular person who did the kind action for you, although I once believed that was what I was feeling—an intense desire to pay that person and only that person back for his/her generosity. But no, instead I feel that because a kindness was done to me or for me, I have received a sort of “good karma,” and I now have a duty to extend that karma to someone else.
This all sounds very “new age,” particularly for someone like me, but it is simply a feeling I have been having recently, as I have been witness to several different individuals’ unselfishness. It is a basic lack of penny-pinching, of who-owes-how-much and where-is-my-fair-share-ness that amazes me, because I have always had such a calculating give-me-my-due demeanor. I admittedly walk from grocery shop to grocery shop until I find apples for less than $1.49/lb and. I do get upset if I walk away and discover that I was charged for two heads of broccoli when I only purchased one (as occurred two nights ago). But, for instance, when I was out with my cousin the very day I moved in, walking along the sidewalk, and she asked if I was thirsty, and we stopped to buy juice from a street vendor, I fully expected to have to pay for my own juice. However, she waved my money away and handed me my bottle of pear juice. I was amazed. She didn’t have to do that.
Of course, “she’s your cousin” you might argue. But then I went to The Heights with my suitemates and their friends, and several of us who had already eaten dinner split chips and salsa. I was the only one who didn’t drink alcohol, so when it came time to pay the bill, I was going to contribute some cash while everyone else paid with their cards, but Alisha told me to forget it, she’d cover it. “Are you sure?” I asked, my money still in hand. “You really don’t care?” And I could tell, by her voice, her demeanor, that she really didn’t care. Really. It was only a few dollars, but still.
So now I want to treat other people to these frivolties. I can’t wait to have people come visit me so I can buy groceries and cook for them. I can’t wait for them to use the rides I have stored up on my Metro Card. I don’t mind spending money as much anymore. I think it just has to be on my terms. I don’t want to be forced into it by anyone. That’s not the same. That’s not generous. And then I start worrying.