My husband and I had a happy marriage—it wasn’t much but it was enough. However, one day I received an unexpected inheritance … it was then when I realized that lady luck doesn’t just smile on you—she always asks for something in return
It’s kind of funny how money changes everything.
I know, I know, people had been saying that for I don’t know how long, but it wasn’t until it actually happened to me that I realized how true that is.
Or money simply reveals our own flaws—that could be the case, but I guess I’ll never know
It’s also ironic how an unexpected blessing could turn into a blatant curse. An unexpected inheritance … lady luck doesn’t just smile on us and ask for nothing in return, and I should’ve known better.
I married Tim when we were both very young—it was the early 2010s, and we were both fresh out of college. We both figured it’d be better to have someone by your side while going through life. You know, just someone to share your life with, someone to lean onto whenever things get rough.
That’s what he used to tell me, at least.
There wasn’t much when we were married—as I said, we were both fresh out of college, with a mountain load of student debts and bills we had to take care of. In hindsight, moving to New York to pursue a career in theatre might not have been such a great idea, but hey, we were young and didn’t think much of it. Follow your dreams, they say. That’s what they always say.
But on the bright side, we did get out of Kansas—that’s one thing I don’t regret.
As you can imagine, living in New York wasn’t easy for us—two twenty-somethings who barely had any savings, sharing a room together … and the rent was the least of our concerns. Bills, student loans, other daily expenses … and the fact that theatre wasn’t exactly a profitable business. We managed to get by month to month with us both taking up part-time jobs here and there.
But we were happy. That’s the thing about being young I guess. For us, all these challenges were simply perceived as adventures. We were content with what we had. It was a bit like that Bon Jovi song—we held on to what we’ve got.
Gina and Tommy … my name is Virginia, and my husband’s name is Tim, so that’s close enough I guess.
Anyway, things were tough for us, but we were happy nonetheless. Even though we had to live on hot pockets for weeks on end, we still found joy in life’s little things. Whenever we both got a day off—and that was a rare occasion—we’d just drive to Niagara Falls and look at the waterfalls for hours.
At times we’d just look at the water flowing down the cliffs for hours, the droplets rising up into the air as the water plummeted into the lake below; or in the winter, when it was cold and barren, with everything frozen in time … it felt like an eternity; he’d also tell me the history there, and how some daredevils would do all sorts of stunts—some made it back, but some never did.
I guess that was his way of saying how some people made it in theatre and some never did—but you just have to keep trying.
It might sound a bit stupid, but after all these years and all the things that happened, I still treasure these moments
Then came the inheritance—something neither of us expected in our wildest dreams.
It was as absurd as it sounds. One day we received a letter from a law firm informing us that some distant relative of mine left me her estate. We thought it was a joke at first, but then when I showed my mother the letter, she confirmed it was indeed my great-aunt—a very reclusive old woman, according to my mother, and very queer as well, and my mother probably saw her three or four times in her life. The letter itself read:
Long story short, we decided to sell the mansion and split the money between me and my mother. Tim knew about it as well, and since we were married, it goes without explanation that we shared the proceedings.
For me, I was thinking we would finally be able to move to a better place—we could even buy an apartment together. We had been married for five years at that time, and living in a room in a shared apartment wasn’t all that appealing for a married couple, as you can probably imagine. However, when it came to those $2.5 million dollars we received, in the end, Tim had other plans in mind. I can still remember our conversation that night.
I remember we were sitting in bed after a long drive back from Oklahoma, and I proposed buying a place in New York so that we could have a better place to live in, or we could rent it out at the very least.
“Hey, what do you think about Manhattan? We can live there or just rent it out,” I asked.
He pondered for a moment, and then he responded. “What about our very own Broadway play?”
I was dumbfounded at that moment—it isn’t cheap to produce a play in general, not to mention a play on Broadway.
“You sure that’s a good idea?” I asked. “How are you going to do that?”
“I have contacts, we can gather a crew together and maybe make one for around $3 million dollars,” he said.
“But where are you gonna find that $500,000?”
“We can always take out a loan. With that $2.5 million in our bank account, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“I don’t know. Don’t you think it’s a bit rushed? Let’s say we do make our own play—but how would people perceive it? Would it be any good?”
We just have to try it out. You never know until you try, honey.”
“But we are actors, not producers. You can’t just walk in and make your own show. You need people, connections, expertise …”
“Orson Welles made Citizen Kane when he was 25. Look, here’s our chance—sometimes you just have to take the chance while you still can.”
Orson Welles was his idol and I couldn’t just tell him ‘You’re not Orson Welles,’ and I guess my silence that night was seen as approval
He began preparing for the play shortly after—he got the money somehow, and he began writing the play himself. He thought about directing it himself, but I dissuaded him from the idea. It was our first big break, and I simply believed that it was better for us to focus on the acting part and leave the rest to the professionals. I also tried dissuading him from writing the script himself, but he insisted that it was “the only way for us to bring out our best selves on stage.”
The whole thing started out okay, and I can’t say I wasn’t excited about this project of ours. But after the first year or so, I could sense some sort of animosity between us—he would get more and more aggressive whenever I suggested some plot changes.
That was the beginning of the end, basically. Fast forward another year—production delays, disagreements between different departments, arguments on the art direction …
It fell apart before it reached the stage.
The money? All down the drain—including the $500,000 we borrowed. I should probably go into more details of how everything fell apart … but to be honest, at this point I don’t really want to talk about it anymore. Mistakes were made, and I couldn’t say I was innocent.
We are now $450,000 in debt. We managed to pay back $50,000 with our savings, but we still have to come up with the rest somehow. Let’s just say we were awakened from that sweet dream of ours before it reached its final climax … or there was probably no climax to speak of this whole time. We were just living in a fantasy world we created ourselves.
And Tim? He’s always out at night these days. He said he started working night shifts, but he smelled like whiskey every time he came back. Maybe he works in a bar? He never told me about his part-time job, not since what happened anyway, and I guess I don’t really want to find out.
I borrowed $300 from my mother. That should be enough money for two one-way tickets back to Topeka.
What can we learn from this story?
Money can’t buy you everything. It might be able to buy you a flat in downtown Manhattan or wherever you want to live, but not everything, such as your very own play on Broadway.
Listen to others. Instead of seeing them as naysayers, listen to their criticisms and potentially use them to improve yourself or whatever it is that you are working on.