When I was in high school, Science Hill High, in Johnson City, TN was like most other middle class small town high schools in Tennessee. The focus of most folk’s attention was sports, beauty and money; not necessarily in that order of importance. For some, academics, arts and community brought up the rear of my high school experience.
Unfortunately or fortunately (it depends on what day you ask) for me the first on the list was my main focus in high school. Although, every time I attended a “band thing” or a “Bolding or Ann Hodge thing” (these were the two rival dance companies for young female “butterflies” in Johnson City during the eighties) I always wished I was one of “them”.
However, as the God of DNA and ADD would have it, basketball player I was, dancer and violists I was not.
Not until I moved to Chattanooga in 1988 did I realize how special and wonderful Science Hill and Johnson City was (and I hope still is) for a family of modest means. I sometimes wonder what would’ve come of me had I been as poor as some and as rich as others in another part of the country? Would I have desired the same for my life? Would I have ended up where I am today? Would I have gone through the same life trials and life tribulations? “And would you consider pride a fault or a virtue?” (Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice, circa 1813) are still unanswered questions for me.
Life is funny how it works.
All I ever wanted in High School was to be either “rich” or “pretty”. Funny how I never thought I needed to be both, I guess I just assumed with one came the other.
I suspect my dreams of riches falls in line with most average, middle class family dreamers who have visions of showering their love ones and friends with gifts and unsolicited charities; while also having the ability to provide life’s necessities and safety through the power of money. I also suspect most “dreamers” never envision what challenges will be faced and what will come of them and their character as the “flow” of money begins to happen.
When I first started “making” a lot of money, all I ever did was worry about not having enough; and as I began to think I had enough, all I ever worried about was not letting “it” be the definition of “me”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting having “a lot” of money isn’t great. Oooh please do not take me for one of those “rich folk”, who like to act poor, because they think that being rich isn’t cool routines. Trust me when I say, there is nothing more wonderful than pulling up at the Ritz Carlton in Atlanta, Ga and having all life’s luxuries money can buy placed at your feet and enjoying every minute of it.
On the other hand, there is nothing worse than someone acting as if this luxury is deserved upon them by a financial divine right. Entitlement is a noun I detest and I find it used way too liberally when describing the poor in my country. I find “class entitlement” just as detestable as “social entitlement”; the only difference between the two, one is discussed openly and the other is just assumed to be acceptable and adjustable.
So I ask you, my reader, to continue this journey of self discovery with me as I describe with you how I am coming to know myself again; after fighting my way through my Chinese drywall crisis in 2011, after dealing with the collapse of my US economy in 2008, after traveling my adult life on the “wheels of commerce”, and after trying to figure out the answer to my Mommy Gah’s philosophy,
“everything has a solution.”
All this, while remembering my Ma-maw reminding me ” Michele, you know what the bible says”, “(1 Timothy 6:10) For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
Alongside, not forgetting what my Nonnie was always saying when I was a kid, “Humans Beings are the devil incarnate and are never to be trusted, especially the ones who tell you they’re going to pay you. And another thing, don’t ever trust anyone who tells you about the baby Jesus and then asks you for money!”
While trying not to get you or me lost in the confusion of it all.