I live in the most expensive city in the country because I have long believed, and had many people convinced, that my career was dependent upon it. I spend money on martinis and expensive dinners because, as is typical among my species of debtor, I tell myself that martinis and expensive dinners are the entire point — the point of being young, the point of living in NYC, the point of living. In this mindset, the dollars spent (…) become an abstraction, an intangible avenue toward self-expression, a mere vehicle of style. (…) As I try to sort out the origins of my present financial situation, I always come back to the feelings I had as a teenager in the suburbs and the ineffable hankering I felt to access some kind of earthier, more “intellectual” lifestyle. (…) Therefore the teen agenda looked a lot like the parental agenda, which was, even though it was the late 1980s, pretty much an Eisenhower-era paradigm: college, work, marriage, return to suburbs. (…) I never had a conscious desire for a lot of money. I was never interested in being rich. I just wanted to live in a place with oak floors.
Meghan Daum, My Misspent Youth