The first time I ever cried for happiness was when I gave my aunt a hundred dollars to help her pay for a law suit. I was eight years old, and we were parked in one of those overflow dirt parking lots out in the desert, when I slid on out of my grandmother’s big ‘ol SUV to head into the store. Without thinking, I picked up some money tumbling along in the wind, but when I looked at it, my mind didn’t believe my eyes. It was One Hundred buckaroos.
Now some people think it is stealing to take money off the ground; I didn’t think so, but we turned it in anyway being the good people that we like to think we are. The lady at the desk refused to take it. “You found this blowing out in the desert?” She raised those thin eyebrows. “Honey, no one’s gonna come lookin’ for this.”
My parents said they would keep it safe for me, ya know, until I knew what I wanted to do with it. Somehow, I knew it was special, and I wasn’t about to just give it away to the toy store. A few months later, we had this dinner for my aunt because she was dealing with this law suit and all. Being eight, I didn’t know much of what was going on, except that she wanted custody of my cousin or something like that. I’ll admit that when my mom suggested I give the Benjamin to my aunt to help her out, I wasn’t exactly what you might call thrilled. But I knew it was a nice, maybe even the right thing to do.
I had seen people cry because they were happy before, and I knew that was why she was crying when she opened the card. It was anonymous, but she knew. Her Thank-You folded in between our hug, and suddenly I was crying too. The tears felt different though; they were warm, and my insides were exploding with light.
I knew right then and there, no doll or toy or bike could have made me that happy. It wasn’t even happy, it was pure, untainted joy.