A piece of paper

Some things you just can’t appreciate until you’ve had to do without them for a while. That’s a cliche, but it’s also the truth. Take my word for it.
I got a paycheck today.
Probably the smallest one I’ve received since Ruth was a baby, but it was still a beautiful sight. My first earned income in nine months. Tangible, solid proof that someone is willing to give me money in exchange for my labors. Personal validation! I wanted to frame it and hang it on my wall — but of course I took it to the credit union and deposited it. I still have the stub, though, and I think I’ll hang onto that for a long time. In 1977, when I got my very first paycheck for my very first summer job, it never occurred to me to keep the stub as a memento. This time I won’t forget.
It’s just a piece of paper. Then again, so is the Bill of Rights. Or a marriage license. Or a birth certificate.

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