26 June 2015

Mea Culpa

I am not poor. I am not wealthy. But I have been fortunate to have earned enough money to be able to purchase whatever it is that I really want. I am fortunate: I don’t desire very much. Years ago, when the New York lottery had just started I told my brother that if I won the jackpot all I would do with the money was to go into Sam Goody Music Store (I do not think the chain exists still) and buy whatever vinyl records I wanted; and then I would put the rest of the money in the bank. It was a silly desire, but at the time it was honest. I had a nice place to live; enough food to eat; a wonderful job; and no thought of retirement or long-term care. I had become a vegetarian and high priced meals were not necessary—or even for the most available—and I was even then a hippie and so my wardrobe tended toward the simple: carpenter jeans purchased at Canal Jeans (now Bloomingdale’s on Lower Broadway). My only flair was scarves I had purchased in Paris one summer. I was content.
     I am not poor though I have aged. I earn enough money to purchase whatever it is that I really want. I am fortunate: I don’t desire very much. And I listen to web radio and no longer own a turntable: all my vinyl sit unplayed (even unplayable) in crates and all of my cds lay in cabinets against the wall gathering for the most part dust. I have a nice place to live; enough food to eat; a wonderful job that the governor assaults with his idiocy; and though I do not plan on retirement now, I do consider the possibility and I think occasionally about the necessity of long-term care. I am still a vegetarian, and though there are far more opportunities for food fare out in the world, I turn most often to pasta, various flavors of veggie burgers, and a great deal of grilled cheese. I often forgo (unhappily) the French fries, but my metabolism and exercise regimen has slowed. I am content.
     But I passed homes today in Connecticut that represented wealth beyond my imagination, and I felt resentment at the privilege these houses represented. Many were gated, beautifully maintained—I suspect often by illegal immigrants—and expansive that bespoke families comprised of a dozen or so members but most probably normal households comprised of a set of parents and 2.4 children. I guess I think it obscene the wealth that these houses represent when I know the vast poverty in which too many children live, and I know that those children’s lives enjoy none of the privilege that exists in those enormous homes.
     And aren’t I a hypocrite to condemn the wealth I see out of my rented car window when I began this piece by asserting I have all I desire. It is middle-class guilt I experience: I can’t be Che Guevara and so I take the more easy path: irony, critique, and left wing politics at the voting booth.


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