I did not win the lottery, I am sorry to say. Normally, this would not have surprised me, since up until Tuesday I had never even purchased a lottery ticket before. But when the jackpot hits $400 million and you have a dream the day before that you are filthy rich and you start watching a movie wherein the hero wins the lottery and a friend of yours randomly walks into your kitchen and hands you a four-leaf clover, you think, “What the hell? I could win this.”
You sit around waiting for the drawing, commiserating with our best friend as she smokes a cigarette and you prance around the back yard looking for dandelions to wish on (I do apologize to my landlords for that). “What would we do if we won?” you ask each other. You wouldn’t tell anyone, so you could keep your friendships and families intact, you’d keep your crappy job and even crappier apartment, but you’d pay off your student loans and donate money to charity and, every now and then, buy a couple bottles of Dom just so you can spray the foam all over the place.
It was definitely better before the drawing. When my friend Chrissie and I were sitting around musing about all the freedom we would have, all the worries that would disappear, and the secret rich girl parties we would have together, wearing thousand-dollar gowns and flambée-ing caviar just because we could. I was so excited. Just for a few minutes, it was possible that all my biggest problems could just vanish, in a snap, just like that.
Of course, I didn’t get anywhere near a winning combination of numbers that night, nor did I get one last night, even though I bought more tickets in a desperate attempt to hold onto the dream. The thing is, I can see now why people go so lottery crazy. Why they pool thousands of dollars for a chance at the freedom that being filthy-freaking-rich can afford you. It’s not that they really believe they will win — at least I like to think so. It’s that they get caught up in the dream, in the fantasy. They imagine how they will react when they see that, yes, they have the winning numbers, checking and double-checking, tearing up and breathing fast turning to jumping up and down and screaming, to (is it possible?) self-urination as the reality sinks in.
My consolation is that I can write about this dream, and in writing about it, I can make it real. And the fact that so many people get to wrapped up in the feverish pursuit of lottery pipe dreams makes me think that maybe there’s a little bit of writer in all of us, that everybody has a piece of themselves that is forever up in the clouds, wishing, dreaming, believing that it could happen. And that makes me feel a whole lot better about the world. Is it better than a lottery win? Probably not. Is it better than nothing? Hell, yes.