"Lottery tickets are a surtax on desperation" - Douglas Coupland

"The lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math" - unknown

tonight was the mega millions lottery drawing. the jackpot was up to $640 million dollars. christian and i bought two tickets. i know it is silly. i know i hardly have any chance of winning. but for some reason i play, like a kid that is too old to believe in santa plays along on christmas eve... i want to believe it will happen for me.

when i was growing up we didn't believe in santa at my house. and we never bought lottery tickets. my mother and step-father were very religious. christmas was about jesus, and not about st. nick, or presents, or a tree (even though we always did have presents and a tree). the lottery was gambling, and likened to witchcraft. i was a kid, and i couldn't buy those tickets anyway. and i didn't wind up too messed up from the not believing in santa thing... in fact, i married a guy who grew up without santa as well.... and now we ponder what to tell our kids about the mysterious dude we never even dreamed about.

when i became an adult my fascination with the lottery began when tickets were bought for me as a gift... scratch-offs mostly. so. much. fun. i loved savoring every number and symbol, and calculating my chances as i "played" the games. i would dream about what i would do when i "won big"... i never "won big". however, once i did win forty dollars. and you know what i did with it? i bought more lottery tickets!

and lost.

last year i started buying scratch-offs every wednesday. i was home on maternity leave and while it was the happiest time of my life, i was a little bored from time to time. i would go on a walk each day. the same walk, again and again... i decided to start playing the lottery once a week to give myself a tiny treat to look forward to. i would spend ten bucks and buy a couple scratch-offs. savor them the entire walk home. wait until chloe was napping and dig the spare change out of my pocket. i would seek out a dime or quarter. pennies and nickles don't work as well because they don't have ridges. dimes are preferred to quarters because they are lighter, fit in my fingers better, and don't dig into the tickets as much. i would take my time, and gently scratch on the games of each ticket. dreaming of what i would do with my loot.

christian would laugh at me, but every wednesday he would ask if i had "won big", and act as though he was sharing my disappointment when i told him no. he informed me that the best way of winning was by playing the number games... you may not win the jackpot, but you could win a large sum of money. i thought about it for a couple weeks. came up with my numbers, and switched to playing powerball on wednesdays.

i would buy one or two tickets, always the same numbers, reasoning that if i play the same numbers over and over again they are bound to come up one day. chris and i would wait for the numbers to be posted on the internet, and dream of the things we would do if we won.

we dreamed of owning a cute itailian bakery, with beautiful pastries and confections. we dreamed of owning a brownstone in brooklyn that we could rent out now and retire in when we were old. we dreamed of paying off our student loans, and not needing to take any more loans as i continue going to school. business ventures galore! we dreamed of a vacation home in the mountains. private school and college for our children. we dreamed of storefronts, and a single home on a one way street. disneyworld, blentec blenders, dresses from anthropologie, more babies.

every week we would dream together about where we would go, what marvelous things we would do, and we never won. however, instead of feeling disapointed, we would go to bed together still dreaming.  we hadn't lost anything by playing the lottery - other than 5 or 10 bucks. our lives were still a-okay, and we had dreamed some pretty big dreams together.  it felt good to spend time together dreaming and scheming. it was fun. it was worth the couple bucks spent on the tickets.

we stopped playing a couple months ago. why? i am not even sure. tonight as we looked at our tickets we started to dream together again at the dinner table. of paying off student loans, and our mortgage. of having more babies and moving into a not so much bigger, but single home. of starting a small business and having a vacation home where we will retire once we are old. of private schools and college tuition... oh we dreamed big!

i stayed up to see that we had not won. i nudged chris, who was sleeping, and told him jokingly that we are losers. he smiled and went back to sleep. 

we may not ever win the lottery, and some of these dreams may still come true. it is good to dream. we spent 10 dollars on two tickets that gave us an excuse to dream big together. some may say it is a waste of money, but i think it is worth it.

did you play? what did you dream of doing when you "won big"?


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