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The Money Summits

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January 2013

Phil sets his laptop on the kitchen table next to Dan, who sits slouched in his chair, arms crossed. He’d become withdrawn the moment Phil said they needed to talk about money.

“So, what, did I forget to pay another bill?” Dan asks.

“Not this month,” Phil says, sitting down. “I paid them all already so we wouldn’t get more late fees.” He winces, hearing the voice of his mum in his head. Don’t chide, and don’t be smug. Being right isn’t the point.

He’d opened up to her over Christmas, frustrated at how often he and Dan had been late paying bills or disparaged the other over how much one of them had spent on clothes or a gift.

“You need a money summit,” Kath had said. And she’d told him that since the early years of her marriage, she and his dad had carved out time for an annual conversation about money.

“I didn’t want to be the kind of wife who let her husband do everything and knew nothing about the finances,” Kath had said. “Talking about money is one of the best things we do for our marriage.”

So that’s why Phil finds himself now, hands clammy, stifling the criticism on his tongue.

“I’m stressed about money and our system sucks,” he begins, wishing he could think of a joke to make.

“We do alright,” Dan says, shrugging. “It worked for us in Manchester, it works here in London. Whoever has the money and remembers first pays for stuff. Everyone knows creative people are crap at money.”

“We spent all our money to move here last summer,” Phil says. “Things are still tight and being disorganized doesn't help. Half the time I don’t even know where my money has gone.”

Dan still has his arms crossed. “So are you saying you want to take charge?”

Phil sighs. He does want to take charge, actually. “I — like, I think we should each pay our own expenses but maybe one of us pays the shared ones. And we figure out a system of saying what’s my money, what’s your money, what’s our money.”

“You’ve never had a problem paying for my stuff before when I’ve been skint.” Dan shrugs again. “Your family has money and so you probably know how to handle it, so I’ll just do whatever you want.”

You might think you’re talking about numbers, but it’s always more than that, Kath had said.

“Do you think I’m better than you just because I had money growing up?” Phil asks.

Dan is staring at a point over Phil’s shoulder. “Maybe, I don’t know. I just know it doesn’t feel good to not have as much money as other people, to hide that you can’t buy what everyone else has,” Dan says. “It’s why I never want to pressure our fans to buy merch if they can’t afford it. You don’t know what that feels like, because your parents probably didn’t scream at each other about whose fault it was that the car was about to be repossessed or how ashamed they were to borrow money.”

Phil doesn’t know what to say. He knows he was born lucky. And besides, it’s not like his family had a ton of money. They were just comfortable.

Dan meets Phil’s eyes. “I do want to be more responsible with my money, with our money. But no one taught me how.”

Phil opens his laptop and shows Dan the screen. “Maybe we can start with this.”

“Is that a fucking spreadsheet?” Dan asks. “Christ, we’re gonna be here all night.”

 

January 2014

“It’s my turn,” Dan says, watching Phil punch numbers into the spreadsheet. A tiny mathematical army marches across the laptop’s screen.

“For what?”

“Last year you took care of paying the joint bills, you nagged me about my taxes, you have all the usernames and passwords to pay, like, all the people we owe money to,” Dan says. “We talked about stuff when it came up, but you mostly did it all. I want to do it this year.”

Phil raises an eyebrow, and Dan hates how instantly discounted he feels.

“Do you not trust me?” Dan says, louder than he intends.

“It’s not that,” Phil says. “Do you know how often I open up this spreadsheet and stare at it? Like, our income is so hard to predict, and if I don’t watch all our money and know exactly where it’s going and plan ahead twelve steps then —”

“It will just disappear and we’ll lose everything?” Dan says softly. He understands that feeling.

“I want to hoard the money we have,” Phil says. “Just stroke it, like a cat.”

Dan rolls his eyes. “I always swore when I was growing up that I would get a good-paying job so no one could hold money over my head and tell me what to do. I fucked that up by dropping out of law school. So now, this is my shot at making it.”

He snaps his fingers. “But it could go away like that.”

“Yeah,” Phil says. “That’s why I feel like I have to constantly watch the money and say yes to any work we get. And then Martyn says we need to diversify our income.”

“Your brother bent my ear about that too,” Dan says. He watches Phil drum his fingers on the table. “You’re avoiding my question. I really want to take over the shared expenses this year.”

Phil’s fingers stop their nervous rhythm. “Can we talk about a few things first, though? Last year, I just told you how much to put into the joint account each month, based on what I thought the bills would be. I think this year we should figure out an exact percentage we each put into the joint account. And I think we should put more into the joint account than our personal accounts.”

Phil leans back. “That would make me feel so much better. To know that we would always have enough in the joint account to pay the living expenses if something went really wrong.”

“But here’s the thing,” Dan says, and then pauses, feeling the weight of unsaid things settle around him. “I’m making more than you now.” Dan’s subscriber count has surpassed Phil’s, though they stopped comparing income from their individual channels a long time ago — it made them both too unhappy and competitive.

A touch of color comes into Phil’s face. “Yeah, I figured,” he mumbles.

“If we did this percentage thing, it would mean telling each other how much money we make on our own channels.”

Phil purses his lips, and Dan wonders how much he’s wrestling with his pride. “Alright, I can deal with sharing that info again,” Phil says after a moment, though he isn’t looking at Dan. “And if we can agree on percentages, I’m fine with you running the financial show this year. But I can still spend my own money how I want, right? We both can.”

Dan nods, feeling a rush of excitement at managing the joint money. He’s surprised by how much he wants this.

Phil shifts in his chair and finally meets Dan’s gaze. “I want to pay my parents back one day. For all the money they gave me in uni and in Manchester to get me on my feet.”

“But they aren’t expecting you to do that,” Dan says, not able to keep the incredulity out of his voice. He had to practically beg for any cent his parents spent on him, and he doesn’t feel beholden to them because of it.

“But I want to do it.” Phil pushes the laptop toward Dan, and Dan peers at the screen, already deciding this spreadsheet would be vastly improved with color-coding.

“It’s all yours, babe,” Phil says.

 

January 2015

Phil raps his knuckles against the table, watching the coffee in his mug ripple with the vibrations.

“Ok, let’s get this started before my caffeine high wears off,” he says.

“Do you want to take over the joint stuff this year?” Dan asks. “We can switch off every year from now on.”

“Or maybe we should get a professional to handle some of this, like we do for the business accounts,” Phil says. “Our lives are getting so complicated now.”

They started the gaming channel and the merch company with Martyn last year and are in the middle of planning a tour and writing a book. Last year they’d met with an advisor to set up investment and retirement accounts. They have money flowing in and out at a dizzying rate. Phil feels some days that coffee is the only thing keeping him going.

“No way,” Dan shoots back. “I never want anyone touching our personal accounts. They could embezzle it or something.”

Phil doesn’t say anything. Frankly, he’s unnerved by all the different pots of money they have. On top of the radio show and individual channel income, they also split the income from the gaming channel, and while they aren’t paying themselves a salary from the merch company yet, one day they might be able to.

“Well then, can we at least talk about watching our spending?” Phil asks. “And doubling-down on our saving while we’re making as much as we are.”

Phil’s gaze wanders over Dan’s shirt. Dan stiffens in his seat.

“Are you gonna bring up the Givenchy again?”

“It cost 800 pounds.” Phil shakes his head. “I still don’t understand it.”

“I wanted it, I liked it. I feel like I deserve nice things sometimes,” Dan says, irritation evident in his voice. “I’ve never had this kind of money before, and we agreed that we can spend our own money however we want.”

Phil doesn’t want to re-litigate this. He thinks it’s a waste of good money, and maybe even a bit distasteful to flaunt wealth on your body, but the point of the personal spending rule is they don’t get to criticize, even though they both slip up sometimes.

Phil sidesteps the argument. “Well, do you want to talk about other spending situations we might get into?”

“People know we are making money now,” Dan says. “I think we should make a rule to pay for meals when we go out with someone.”

“But won’t that be awkward?”

“I think it’s worse to make people wonder about who’s going to pay,” Dan says. “The really awkward situation is going to be the first time someone asks us for money.”

Phil groans. He’s dreading this too, but it’s definitely going to happen at some point.

“I just don’t want to get dragged into some bananas business scheme or bail someone out for betting all their money on the name of the next royal baby,” he says.

Dan is fiddling with the string on his sweatpants. “My family got into binds growing up. It felt like shit asking for money and then having people judge you for why you needed it,” he says. “The money absolutely helped, though. But it also totally ruined some relationships.”

“Maybe we can set aside some money each year that we’re ok with giving away,” Phil says. “And then talk next year if we want to do more or less.” Phil sees endless numbers in his head. It’s triggering his anxiety, so he replaces it with an image that never fails to soothe.

“If we’re gonna talk about setting aside money for specific reasons, I want to start saving for a house.” He can see it, a home in the sky, made of windows and light. “But I want to save for it all upfront so we won’t ever have to worry about it being taken away. But how much is enough, not just for a house, but for everything? I have no idea.”

“I do,” Dan says. He takes a pen and scribbles on a napkin from their last takeaway dinner. He pushes the flimsy square across to Phil.

“Jesus,” Phil says when he sees the number.

“If we keep working hard, we could save that together, or maybe even we could each hit that target on our own. I don’t know how many years it would take, or if all this will blow up tomorrow,” Dan says.

“And this would make you feel safe? This would feel like enough?” Phil watches Dan tilt his chin up, a bit of defiance or bravado there. Dan nods.

Phil taps his finger against all the zeroes. He gets up and pins the napkin to the refrigerator with a magnet.

He thinks there’s no way they’ll get close, but he does like having a goal. He likes having an endgame.

“Well, let’s go for it, then,” he says.

 

January 2016

Dan shivers in his jumper, pulling up the blanket as Phil settles next to him on the sofa. Winter has snuck into the flat, hiding frigid drafts in corners and along the floor.

“That was a fun video,” Dan says, thinking of the Sims episode they’d just finished filming. “I swear I get a dopamine rush out of buying fancy light fixtures in a virtual world.”

Phil props his elbow against the back of the sofa, turning to face Dan. “We probably spent more fake money on our Sims than real money on ourselves last year.”

“Except for the Japan trip. We splashed out on that,” Dan says. “Well, you did. You still won’t tell me how much you spent.”

Phil shrugs. “We deserved it for how hard we’ve been working. And it made us happier than a pricey lamp would have.”

Dan pulls more of the blanket up under his chin. With Phil’s body heat seeping into him, he’s finally starting to feel the chill dissipate. “But do you think we deserve the amount of money we earned last year? Just for entertaining people? Is that worth more than the kind of work a teacher or a doctor or a farmer does?”

Phil tilts his head to the side. “Does my answer matter? We both know we’re gonna keep doing this because we like it and because we’d be idiots not to.”

Phil worms his hand underneath the blanket and pokes at Dan’s side. “Does this feel like an illegitimate way to make money to you?”

“I’m proud of what we do,” Dan says. “But it bothers me that in this last year people seem to have started to treat us like we’re somehow, I don’t know, better people. Not because of the actual job we do, but because of how much money we make.”

Dan thinks back to being a teenager in this little brown bedroom. “I grew up around all these people that I thought were better than me because they could buy things I couldn’t and I resented some of them because it all felt so unfair. Now I’m that person with money.”

He stretches out his legs in front of him, jostling against Phil in the process. “It’s confusing to me, all of it. Do I deserve this money? Is it right to earn this much for this kind of job? If we lived in the Sims, money would just be this thing that we had or didn’t have. It wouldn’t be this thing that says you’re better or worse than other people.”

Phil’s eyes have lost focus. “If we lived in the Sims, I could be an alien and have a baby.”

“Mate, I’m not having this conversation again,” Dan says. “Go get your laptop and let’s figure out how to use this accounting software I want to try instead of our insane spreadsheets.”

 

January 2017

Phil takes a sip from the champagne flute and looks around the lounge, thinking of the new apartment they will move to in a few months.

“I think our financial goals are pretty much the same this year,” he says. “Keep working, keep saving, don’t spend too much, even though we’re making more money.” Phil thinks of the napkin still pinned to the refrigerator and the number that they’d crossed through more than once now, adjusting the figure as their ideas of what was possible expanded.

“Well, I do want to buy a nice piano for the new place,” Dan says. “But a good piano isn’t cheap.”

“Get what you want, Dan. We’ll have plenty of room.”

“Speaking of that,” Dan says, pointing around the lounge with his glass, “I want us to get rid of a bunch of this stuff before we move.”

Phil grits his teeth. This has been a conversation they’d been having more often. For Phil, accumulating things makes him feel safe and surrounded by happy memories, while over the last few years Dan has slowly landed on the side of wanting fewer, but more luxurious, things.

“You used to like having stuff,” Phil complains.

“But I don’t anymore. Materialism for the sake of having stuff is gross,” Dan says. “It’s a long con by the advertising industry. And I don’t care if you can write off half the stuff you buy as business expenses for videos, because it all still piles up here.”

Phil just nods, knowing he’s noncommittal, and that he’ll never be able to get rid of enough stuff to make Dan happy. He takes another sip, feeling a slight buzz loosen his limbs.

“Mmm,” Dan says, around a mouthful of alcohol. “It was nice of your mum to buy us this.”

The bubbles from the sweet champagne tickle the back of Phil’s throat as he swallows. “She apologized when she gave it to me. She said she was sure we’d had fancier champagne, since we’re, ah, so well off now.”

Phil forces a laugh. “Before she came over, I actually hid the box the new vacuum cleaner came in. I didn’t want her to see the posh brand.”

“But that’s a good fucking vacuum cleaner,” Dan objects. “I researched that for days.”

“I know. I just saw it and felt embarrassed.”

This was something Phil had found himself worrying about, that the money he had now would somehow separate him from the people he loved.

Dan sets his glass on the table and puts a hand on Phil’s knee. “I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard you say it.”

“Say what?”

“I’ve heard you say affluent. I’ve heard you say comfortable. Sometimes you say fortunate,” Dan says. “Say we’re rich.”

Unease pricks the back of Phil’s neck.

“I mean, we have a lot of money. And I like making money and thinking of new ways to earn it. But we’re not flashy. We’re not snobby. We’re not those kind of people. We’re normal”

Dan laughs, not unkindly. “Bullshit. When all this started, I just wanted to make and save as much money as I could. It was my ticket away from ever having to depend on my family. But what we’ve done is fucking leapfrogged a bunch of classes,” Dan says. “So we may be like, decent people or whatever, but we are absolutely not like everyone else now.”

“Say it,” Dan insists.

Phil closes his eyes. It feels wrong.

“We’re — god why is this so hard, ugh.” He tries again. “Ok. I’m just gonna say it — we’re rich.” He inhales. “I’m rich.”

He opens his eyes. He’s not sure if he feels good or bad. Relieved maybe.

“Why did that feel like I was coming out?” Phil asks.

“We’re a good pair, then,” Dan says. “You can tell people you’re gay, but not rich. And I’m proud of my money, but messed up in the head about sexuality.”

“So when did you feel rich?” Phil asks.

“That one month when I paid off my student loans with a lump sum and bought a new gaming console with real money, not on credit,” Dan says. “That’s when I felt a shift; that I wasn’t going to have to worry about money in quite the same way ever again.”

Phil stares down into his champagne. “I don’t want it to change me.”

“What are you afraid of?”

“That it will make me less empathetic, that I’ll lose touch with other people’s realities.” Phil thinks about how it’s been harder lately to tell if people like or dislike him for himself or his money. “That I’ll stop trusting people. That it will turn us into assholes.”

“Too late for that.” Dan winks and clinks his glass against Phil’s.

 

January 2018

Dan looks out at the sunset afterglow washing London’s rooftops with a soft haze that’s better than any Instagram filter.

Phil is waiting on the sofa behind him.

“I hope I never get used to this,” Dan says, turning his head toward Phil. “I hope I never forget to be grateful that we have this kind of view.”

Dan looks out the window again; there’s a residual luster in the sky, but the city lights are blinking awake.

“I’m surprised by how good I feel about the last few months,” he says. The advertiser boycott on YouTube plus the new demonetization rules had hit both their incomes. And they are laying out so much money for their second tour. Every meeting now swims in numbers about the cost of transportation, stage equipment, accommodations, crew salaries, insurance, catering. The list never gets shorter, and they’re on a first-name basis with more than one accountant.

“At the end of the day, we’ll be fine, no matter what happens,” Phil says.

And maybe that’s why Dan feels so much calmer about the financial side of things. Because all the years of working and earning and saving have paid out dividends in the form of feeling secure, feeling in control. There are other things to worry about, but being broke isn’t one of them. It’s a good feeling. It’s freedom.

Against the darkening sky, red beacons announce an airplane in the distance. He pictures the children who might be sleepy or hyper in their seats, and the patient or exasperated parents next to them.

“Phil, if we ever have kids, are we gonna give them money? Like an inheritance.” Dan finally moves to the sofa and Phil hands him the cushion Dan likes to squish behind his back.

“Sure, I would give kids money if it means they get a good start in life.”

Dan clasps the cushion against his stomach. “No one gave me anything, and I’m the better for it. I don’t want kids who just expect everything handed to them.”

“I bet you’ll cave the first time one of them so much as gets a tear in their eye.”

Dan sighs. He should know better than trying to predict the future. “I suppose I just want kids who will have ambition. Who want to make something, or do something in this world.”

“We have time to figure it out. I mean, we haven’t decided if we’re going to have kids, or how, though whichever way we choose it will probably be easier legally if we’re married already.”

“You just want to marry me for my money, anyway,” Dan says, leaning forward to poke Phil in the chest. “Are you gonna make me sign a prenuptial agreement first?”

“Prenups aren’t enforceable here, at least not yet,” Phil says.

“Looked into it, have you?”

Phil shrugs. “I was curious. Would you sign one if the law were different?”

“I mean, at this point our finances are so entangled,” Dan says. “I don’t even know how we would start to figure out how to divide everything up.”

Dan hugs the cushion closer. “But yeah, I would sign one. I don’t want to argue about money with you. There’s more than enough to share.”

“Promise?” Phil reaches out, pinkie finger extended.

Dan curls his pinkie finger around Phil’s.

“Promise,” he says. “I’m sure our hypothetical divorce lawyers would consider this to be a binding contract.”

 

January 2019

Phil stretches out on the sofa, closing his eyes. He can’t seem to shake the persistent fatigue that’s been his unwelcome companion this month, along with its twin, irritation.

He’s not sure why he’s so drained. The tour is over, and they aren’t filming gaming videos anymore. And Dan is putting a pause on almost everything so he can produce his coming out video.

Phil’s brain and body just can’t seem to recognize the change in pace.

He hears Dan come into the room and sit down at the far end of the sofa, next to Phil’s feet. Dan wraps a gentle hand around Phil’s bare ankle.

“Still feeling tired?” Dan asks.

“Yeah, though we can go ahead and talk. But I’m just gonna lay here if that’s ok with you.”

“So we haven’t hashed out the specifics of how we’re going to handle a reduced income this year,” Dan says. “I have no clue what will happen after I finally post this video, much less how I’ll be earning money after that.”

Phil hears some level of self-flagellation in the words. He opens his eyes to look at Dan.

“We will still make more than most people could hope for, even if it’s less for us.” Just the residual income from all their existing videos means they will have some sort of income every month. And Phil will still make new videos, and sell merch, and crank out social media posts. He feels the exhaustion press him further into the sofa just thinking about it.

“It just feels weird to not be contributing right now, to not be adding to the pile,” Dan says.

Phil thinks he knows what Dan means. It’s been so many years of working, of stashing money away because they were afraid this job would go away. And it didn’t. So now they find themselves having arrived where they wanted to be, but it still feels like uncharted land.

“Working less feels the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do,” Dan says. “And I know it’s the money that’s essentially buying me this time. But if I’m not earning money, it feels like I’m not pulling my weight.”

“We talked about this, though. The next few years are for you to figure out this next phase. One day it will be my turn, and you’ll be the one in the sugar daddy spot.” Phil nudges Dan with his foot.

Dan flicks a finger against Phil’s shin. “Just let me have my feelings about this. I’m processing.”

“This is like Dan 2.0 time, I guess,” Phil muses. “Sometimes I wonder if the last few years have been just another form of gaming for us. Like, chasing the numbers. Money, or subscriber counts, or merch or ticket sales, and moving all those numbers around like they were blocks in a Tetris game. And now we’re saying we aren’t going to try and win that game anymore.”

“And do you think playing that game, and having money to show for it, has made us any happier than most people?” Dan asks.

“Do you think it hasn’t? Of course it has.”

“I mean, I know that we don’t have material hardships and probably never will. That’s a huge privilege. But I can’t buy myself out of my fears, I can’t spend money to fix my relationship with my family. I just wonder sometimes, even though I know no one’s going to sympathize with the emotional struggles or fuck ups of a man with a ton of money.”

“That’s ridiculous. We’re still human, Dan.” Phil can hear the tetchiness in his tone. Dan is quiet for a while, and Phil concentrates on relaxing his jaw.

“Babe,” Dan says. “You keep telling me that it’s fine that we’ll be earning less this year. But do you say that and then think that you just need to work harder?”

Phil stares up at the ceiling. He’s honestly not sure why he’s struggling so much lately.

“Because,” Dan continues, “all the work we’ve done is why I have the option to risk failing now. But you have options too. So maybe this year is the one where we stop talking so much about the numbers. Maybe there are more interesting things to do with our time and our money than make more money.”

Phil rubs the heel of his hand against his forehead. His brain still feels fuzzy.

“Alright,” he says, thinking of the tattered napkin that’s no longer on their refrigerator, but instead in a more discreet spot in their office. “I guess we really are in a post-napkin universe now.”

 

January 2020

“Ok, love to everyone.” Dan ends the call and takes the cup that Phil hands him. Phil had come into the kitchen with the drinks from the neighborhood café just as Dan wrapped up his conversation with his mum.

“How’d it go?” Phil asks, sitting down next to Dan at the table. Dan’s relationship with his mum had shifted after his coming out, but they were both still figuring out how to talk to each other.

“We reminisced about the France trip.” Dan takes a sip from his cup, savoring the layers of spice in the warm chai. “And it occurred to me while we were talking that maybe I could take her on a vacation. Just the two of us. Is that a crazy idea?”

“I’m not even sure I could do that, and me and my mum are practically the same person.”

“Like, I can’t go back in time and change things, but spending time with her now is in my power to give. And I’d pay for the whole trip because I can do things like that now. It would feel good to give that way, just like with Japan.”

Phil smiles at him over his coffee. Dan had insisted on paying for last year’s trip. It had been a restorative, and luxurious, getaway for them both.

The trip had felt like permission; the whole past year had felt like that. They both came out, Phil admitted he was overworked, and they each took on new creative projects. And they finally had a meeting set up with a real estate agent to start tentative talks about buying a house. The past had been about accumulation. The future was going to be about sustainability. And about giving back.

They’d always made donations here and there, but Dan wanted to do it more often and with more of a long-term strategy.

“Let’s talk about how we’re going to decide where to donate this year,” Dan says. “And we don’t need to publicize it. I don’t want to do it for clout.”

“I’ve been thinking about this. Do you really think one-time donations make that much of a difference?” Phil asks.

Dan frowns. “What do you mean?”

“It’s like the cause we’re donating to is a leaky bucket. And we try to put money on the holes like a plaster, but the money doesn’t stick because, well, money isn’t sticky enough to plug up that kind of hole permanently. And maybe what we should really do is stop trying to fix the holes and buy a new bucket instead.”

Phil levels a challenging look at Dan, his voice deepening. “And the truth is that we may want to help, but buying a new bucket costs a lot, and we’re never going to give up that much. We’re never going to do anything that will keep us from staying rich. We’re always going to have more, and other people are going to have less, and I just don’t know if any money we donate can fix that.”

“If you say anything about ‘eat the rich’ right now I will guillotine you myself,” Dan says, chopping his forearm toward Phil’s neck.

Phil dodges and laughs. “I’ll eat the rich later tonight, don’t you worry,” he says, waggling his eyebrows.

“Oh god. Please stop talking.” Dan rests his hand on Phil’s thigh, giving it a light squeeze.

He’d thought circles around this over the years. About the morality of capitalism and having as much money as they did; about dumb luck and talent and serendipitous timing and hard work and privlege and gratitude, and whether you could assign a dollar value to someone’s worth as a person; about the pleasures and perils of consumerism; about feeling proud of his money but also guilty; about what kind of society and economy would extend decency and dignity to everyone; about the right way to be a rich person, and how even if he and Phil spent the rest of their lives being saints and paragons, it still wouldn't justify the amount of money they had in their bank accounts.

“I don’t know if the issue is so much that you and I have more and other people have less,” he says. “It’s that some people don’t have enough. And that’s what I want any money we give to do. To help change some part of the system that keeps people poor, or without opportunities, or fundamentally shut out from equality.”

“Having enough really does make a difference, doesn't it?” Phil says, putting his hand on top of Dan’s. “We know that now, even though we have so much more than enough. And it’s not fair.”

The kitchen is quiet and warm around them, a citadel of safety and stability that they’ve built — block by block, barricaded and defended — in the beautiful and awful world that spins around them.

“No,” Dan says, knowing it’s true, and knowing it’s something they can never forget. “It isn’t.”