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RicherPoor

I was born into white-trash. My mom and dad were just seventeen, still in high school, in Reno. We lived in a trailer just over the border in California. When my folks graduated high school, we picked up and moved to Texas, so my dad could go to college. Back then, we lived in campus married-student housing, a ramshackle hut, on a dusty road.

As I grew up, my father's earning power grew, and we moved on from white-trash to middle-class. I remember my mother's joy when they built their first house. She made them paint some of the walls this hyper-bright lemon yellow...I remember some painter making a snide comment of some sort, but I don't remember what. As the years went by, my sisters were born. By then, my dad was well into the upper ends of middle management. By the time I went to college, he was a true executive...his friend hires him to be CFO of his company, my dad did well and impressed the board so much, they fired my dad's friend and made him CEO instead. Then my dad got the Oklahoma utilities to buy the company up and sell it off piecemeal. Dad worked for months after they'd let literally everyone go. Just him and his secretary in that big factory all alone, doing paperwork to finalize the death. Now he's a CEO for someone else, my mom "works" full-time at being a social butterfly, and my sister who still lives at home...I don't blame her for who she's becoming. She's not the one who bought her a pony. I only hope that someday she'll grow beyond the crass materialism and pharaseeism she's been raised in.

The point of this all...when I was little, we were poor. I can't count the number of times I went to bed hungry, not just a little hungry, but stomach growling, mommy please, hungry. OK, some of those nights were liver-and-onions nights, but many of them, we just didn't have the food to go around, and that was when I was an only child...So in my mind, I always saw our family thru the eyes of childhood, as poor and struggling. This was great for my folks, since it gave them justification to deny me anything I asked for, allowing them to save up their money to spend on my sisters. I used to accept that as the way things were. But then one day, on our trip to greece (before you get all "how can you think you were poor if you got to go to greece" on me, I should mention that when my father's job was in Singapore, the company paid for our flights home to the US and back, for summer vacation, with as many stops as we wanted, so long as the direction was constant), and I found this decent charcoal sketch artist. Wanting something to remember my trip by, I asked my folks if I could get a sketch. They replied that it was far too expensive, but I could spend my own money if I felt like it. I only had enough cash left to get the black-and-white sketch, but that was enough for me. Halfway through my sketch, my sis decides she wants a sketch too. So my mom tells the artist to hurry up and finish mine, and then commissions a full color sketch for sis-1 (sis-2 not yet born), which they of course paid for in full. My mom felt compelled to remind the artist that I was supposed to pay for my own. Then she took both sketches for herself. If you go up to her picture gallery, you can find them side by side, a reminder that I come from a poor family, my sisters come from a rich one. That we shared the same biological parents matters not, it's the question of richerpoor that tells the difference in whom we were raised by.

2002-07-24