I have a jar! You’re excited by this, I can tell. I have a jar. It’s blue ceramic, with a big bulbous bottom and tapering top. The only opening is a small slot cut out in the top. Exactly rubbish, in fact, for storing pickled onions.
I received this jar on the occasion of my fortieth birthday, almost two years ago. It’s got a wee camper van motif on it, and the purpose of the jar is for you to put your pennies in till its full, then get yourself something nice with the proceeds.
I had a bit of a false start with the jar. After a couple of months of dropping in pound coins, the occasional two pound coin, and once, in a fit of total abandon, a fiver, I had a skint week or two coming up to pay day. The consequent chibbing away with a knife at the slot in the upturned jar to retrieve some much needed cash is the reason for the unseemly chips in the ceramic, and also why it still looks at me reprovingly sometimes.
Since that dark day, however, I’ve been quite committed to the jar, and have never since assaulted it again in this way. Once I decided on the year off, the jar started to take on quite a talismanic importance to me. I am Joe Ordinary, and have always needed to work to live. Over the years, I managed to save a modest amount of money which, in other circumstances, I might have spent on a car or a new kitchen. In the event, I bought myself a year. It was always going to be a frugal time, no football clubs or yachts will be purchased in the coming months, but I have no problem with that. For this reason, the jar has become many things – the holiday jar, the adventure jar, the freedom jar. In the year off, the jar would sweep me off my feet and whisk me away.
And so I formed a plan. On the first proper day of freedom, I would have a ceremonial smashing of the jar (wrapped inside two towels, obviously. The jar, that is, not me), count the lucre and daydream gleefully about where me and the bits of jar were going to go. But here’s the thing. As the day approaches, I find…well, I don’t want to. Not yet, at least. I want to wait a bit, maybe put another pound or two in, just for old times sake. I’m a tiny bit nervous, having hung on to the thought for a while now, that the jar might not actually stretch to a Caribbean cruise for two or a month on safari.
So, I’m hoping that, eventually, the right moment for the opening of the jar will occur to me. That a few weeks of not working, thinking a bit, relaxing and enjoying the world bring me to a point where, whatever turns out to be in the jar, will be exactly what I was hoping for. Pickled onions and all.