Middle Class

>> Sunday, July 11, 2010

It brings a smile to my face knowing that I come from such a humble background. In San Francisco the neighborhood you grow up in pretty much defines you. Your stomping grounds sums up what kind of family you come from. It can easily separate you from being a well off upper class citizen to someone barely making ends meet. If you live in Twin Peaks, St. Francis Wood, or down by the Marina, you’re pretty well off. Richmond or Sunset, you’re a in between average Joe. It’s as simple as that with the other neighborhoods filling in the gaps and extremes.

The funny part is that people in most neighborhoods don’t cover where they’re from. If they live in big houses then they drive big cars, buy big toys, and go on big vacations. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that in the least bit. People work hard to earn a living and should be proud of the product they put forth. It’s ok to splurge once in a while as long as it’s in controlled manner.

In the grander scheme of things growing up in a household where my parents made just enough is a blessing. I grew up in a simple home and quickly learned that we lived within our means. Our vacations didn’t consist of extravagant exotic beaches on the other side of the globe. We didn’t do the yearly trip to Disneyland or other amusement parks. My brother and I didn’t own a game system like many friends or relatives. Instead we hopped in the car and drove for long as we could (or until I got sick and puked out yesterday’s lunch). My version of a five star hotel was a bare camp ground with a modest fire pit. There was no room service, no first class amenities, no fine dining, or latest game console. There were just marshmallows, crackling fires, and noisy crickets.

In retrospect I can only recall sitting in an airplane on small number of occasions. Movies were rented more from the library than anywhere else. Heck, going out to get fast food as a meal seemed like a big deal in itself. It was no secret that my friends had the luxuries of a comfortable lifestyle, many of which I could only dream of. They lived in mansion-like homes with separate entertainment rooms, fully decked out kitchens, and random art pieces that served no purpose. The reality I failed to recognize until only recently is that it really didn’t matter. None of it was important. I already had everything I needed.

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