Tonight, the Teacher and I watched the second part of an old PBS documentary about life in Appalachia. She is directly from the region; my own connection is more tenuous, but still exists. I’ve lived in trailers, worked in factories, and lived in (what seemed to me) the middle of nowhere. (The Teacher laughs at this; her holler was as far from a “big town” of 2000 as my town was from an actual big city.)
Now, we’re sitting in a very nice apartment, preparing to go to Africa, making more than all of our parents put together. Our world is nothing like what our parents or ancestors have ever lived in. Our kids will likely go to private schools, surrounded by the kids of various kinds of elites. We’ll even likely have “domestic help” in many of our posts. Twenty years ago, this was what I thought it meant to be rich. (Screw that; it still IS what it means to be rich. Others would disagree, but we make above the “National Median Income.” Good enough.)
I’m happy about this, and I know my mother is too. However, it leads me to some worries, too. I worry about how our kids will grow up, if they’ll be spoiled, if they’ll understand the rest of our families. If they’ll understand the sacrifices that have been made.
I also worry that I will forget it myself. I’ve heard that luxury and privilege have a way of eroding one’s memory of hardship and decency.
I’ll be posting another story from my childhood soon, to further explain what I mean about my family.
And, to any family members reading this: Thank you again for all the love and support you’ve given me over the years. This is only possible because of you.