If you happened to cruise past my place around 1 pm today, you’d have seen me in the front yard, in a Super Mario t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, blowing leaves down into a pile at the end of the sidewalk (for proper removal by the “leaf guy”).
As I was doing this, I noticed several of my neighbors roll by– either going home or leaving home for work or business. I waved, and I was generally a cool neighbor, but there weren’t any stops for conversations or anything like that.
It doesn’t surprise me. Most of the people in our neighborhood are older and make far more money than we do (and made far more money for so long that they’re very well off at this point). I have asked myself before if I, as a sixty-something well-dressed, rich investment banker would want to stop and chat with the 40-something college professor in his gamer shirts and shorts who is trying his best to learn to keep a yard in the fancy part of town.
The house Julie and I are buying suits us. It’s an amazing, charming old place. We deserve it, and while we’re still working to make it our own, to get all the little things (and some of the bigger things) done, it’s certainly home. It feels right. It’s perfect for us.
Part of the logic of me liking and looking at the place was that it’s in a very nice neighborhood. We feel safe here. My mother and I both used to walk through this area (we lived in the poor area about 13 blocks away), and mom told me how as a child she’d dreamed of living in this neighborhood.
But living here is also an interesting commentary on what it means to climb socially. I grew up poor here in Richmond. I’m struggling now, but we are at the other side of the poverty line, at least. Julie and I do well enough now. Finally.
But if you want to know the cost of moving 13 blocks from the bad neighborhood to the awesome neighborhood, it’s 12 more years of advanced schooling and six years of working in your profession with a terminal degree, plus the mortgage itself, plus just under the amount of the mortgage for both myself and for Julie in loan debt for that education.
In other words, it’s a difficult process. And if things keep moving the way they are politically, it might be impossible to maintain.
But for now, let me enjoy the fact that I’m out in my big yard, in my Mario shirt, blowing leaves and thinking “what? Is this how this works?”
First world problems, amirite?