While the rest of you may be cheering the nudge of tulips through gardens covered in layers of a Mother Nature who can’t make up her mind, I stare wistfully through my smudgy windows and woefully at the piles of paper that have accumulated on my long table.
It’s tax time.
Each year will be different, I tell myself, and next year will be. Again.
Certain I had a handle on things last year, I carefully cleared out my file cabinet to be organized for the coming onslaught. Instead, I spent hours immersed in stories and poems and drawings I’d held on to since the boys were in preschool. Determined to gather it all in one spot, I combed files and corners for photos and papers and journals and spent that afternoon reliving two decades. It was a different kind of accounting.
That’s my problem, of course. I will drop everything if someone tells me a story. I’ve been late getting on planes, I’ve spent hours some weeks returning emails, and I’m one of those weird people who mean it when they ask: “How are you?” It deflects things like my taxes, but taxes are taxing and stories are wonderful and how can you blame me?
I have an accountant I adore who dutifully listens to my stories in turn. I started going to him when I was 18, with a burgeoning business that I thought required the professional polish of a professional accountant.
First year’s sales were $356. I’m not sure what he charged me, though he’s never let me forget I showed up wearing leather pants. The straitlaced accountant and the crazy chick in the leather pants: it’s been a lifelong friendship I continue to cherish. That other kind of accounting, again.
I’d taken a bookkeeping course to handle the millions that didn’t materialize but the practice remained handy. The problem? The table covered in mounds of papers that must be sorted, collated and reduced to a single sheet I hand to Henk for his accounting magic.
Yes it’s in my computer, but every year as those tulips force through, the tulips my Dad planted, I need to see the year before me as I think about the ones that have passed.
So, too, do the cats. The late, fabulous Maggie would sit serenely among piles of paper enjoying the sunlight and chasing any that fell to the floor; papers on the floor signalled recycling, and meant she could frolic.
The youngsters I have now believe the table itself is simply a paper highway and dive and cavort in the piles, making my work four times harder. This is the problem when the previous worker leaves without training the incoming ones.
I would get angry, except I know the value of developing new stories. I let them play.
I tell all the kids to give me their official slips and papers; with myriad tuitions and student loans and part-time jobs, I want to make sure nothing gets missed.
Taryn asked which papers she should give me. The scary ones, I told her, and she understood. I asked her about previous years, before she knew my son, and together we go over that accounting. We find that story.
Training has made me a receipt keeper, and I parse out the relevant ones each year. The most important receipts — treks to the cottage with the kids or the Reward Boots for landing a new gig or the parking slip from Niagara Falls after losing one — are the ones that get tossed away.
I’m wrong; I don’t do my accounting once a year, I do it every day.