I recently drove around the town where I grew up. “An affluent village,” according to Wikipedia. The thing is, the village may have been affluent, but I wasn’t. I lived on the wrong side of the tracks (well, it’s the Great Western Trail now, but it was railroad tracks at one point) in an unincorprated area. My house was a block from another town with about three times the population below the poverty level and one-third less white people. (It has been pointed out to me by someone who grew up downtown in the affluent village whenever the subject comes up I make a point of saying I’m REALLY from the first town and not the second…OK, I get it, I still have issues!)

I went to elementary school in the “poor” town and high school in the “rich” town. On the bus ride downtown, I swore that someday I would buy the biggest house on the block (preferably one on Park Boulevard) and my kids would be football stars and cheerleading captains. So that totally happened, right? Nope. And I’m glad; it’s not for me. Now my dream is to live in a cute cottage and travel the world, maybe adopt a few older kids and put them through college.

So, as I drove through town a few weeks ago I laughed at my silliness and neediness. Except, I didn’t. I looked at houses, found the most obnoxious, and daydreamed about living there. Did I think about being rich and powerful? Not quite. I realized my true desire is to be envied. So how about being envied for what I really do want: bliss? And how about then helping others gain what I have so they don’t need to envy me? Sounds like a plan, Stan.

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7 Responses to Envy

  1. Michael Stajduhar says:

    I had a similar experience growing up. Compared to some of the other DuPage county suburbs, West Chicago is decidedly low end. I knew that more than anything, I wanted to get out of there and…and..have a certain kind of life.

    I remember one night…I was probably 20 years old…looking at houses near lake Ellyn, thinking to myself “someday”. Later when I was married, I actually had a house like that and while I loved it…loved what it represented…how it made me look to the neighborhood….it was also a huge burden. We were badly overstretched and it damaged the marriage, possibly fatally.

    Lovely things have their place, they are worth having-truly…but in the end I learned that that the peace of mind that comes from living a life you can afford is more important.

  2. Judith Mann Stocker says:

    I lived in one of those houses on Park Boulevard growing up. While it was nice to have the space and be close to the high school, I never fit in with the neighborhood kids. They were too plastic and concerned with image. I wanted to be friends with real people. I preferred the kids from the “wrong side of the tracks,” as my friendship with you atests to! Last weekend, I was in town for my 20th hs reunion. As my sister put it, some of them “never left the bubble.” I’m happy I left the bubble and I’m sure you are too!

    • Melissa says:

      So glad I left the bubble. (And so glad you were friends with us kids from the wrong side of the tracks!) What’s interesting to me is how easy it is for me to fall back into my old way of thinking. I’m all smart, tough, independent…and desperate to be the coolest kid on the block. 🙂

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