I find mysef building identity by the things I buy, a truly capitalist way of life. Fair trade organic coffee, iPhone, online thrift store shoes, fresh flowers, gluten free this and that, recycled toilet paper, ad nauseaum.
I’m a bit of a hipster dick despite living in a small depressed farm town. I remember feeling shocked a few years ago when I met a few middle aged adults who had never learned to read. Forget about the iPhone, they couldn’t read a traffic sign or a voting ballot or a bill. Then, I met others who had no teeth left, even a 40-something.
The secret of my life is that I wasn’t born with an iPhone stuck in my ass, even if they hadn’t been invented yet. I wore ten cent jean skirts from rummage sales and ate popcorn for dinner. I’m pretty sure we were the last American family to own a VCR and that didn’t happen until the 90s.
I grew up with all the shame of using colored money (food stamps before they became debit cards) and putting butter on tortillas when we ran out of other stuff. I remember being horrified when I showed up at a slumber party and had to wear a t-shirt and underwear amongst a sea of little kid pajamas, of which I officially had none. In high school, my sister and I slept on the floor. No beds.
I learned of the finicky nature of employment from my parents who endured layofffs and sought temp work to fill the gap. My parents have college degrees. But we lived in Saginaw, a city with little opportunity once factories closed and moved to other countries for cheaper labor.
How hard is hard enough? With a dad who worked for a time as a convenience store clerk selling lottery tickets and liquor and my own work history littered with several cleaning jobs, labor takes on a different meaning than it does to someone who trades stocks for a living.
I’ve tried hard in life not to judge. Let the silver spoons have their day in America. Sell their stolen goods and pay less or no taxes. We are so happy they are doing well that we will try to get an education and work hard to be like them someday.
I have a lot of things. I mean things. A car, a house, a yard, a camper, pets, assorted things I look at or touch occasionally. In America, that is winning. I can also read and have most of my teeth still.
When my family dies, I will inherit nothing. When I die, they will also inherit nothing. There is no magical money out there floating around in the stock market garnering pennies and dollars every second as I breathe and spend life furiously.
There is only me. A person with a terrible haircut and a penchant for killing gerber daisies. It all means nothing.