Mmm hmm, we’re all human, want to love and be loved, put our pants on one leg at a time; insert whatever cliche feels right to you here. But there are differences between those who worry about paying the rent and those who don’t, same as there are differences between men and women. Then again, maybe it’s just me.
I don’t make too many plans, but for as much as I lecture myself not to do it, I still dream. I dream of my beach house, I dream of a 135 gallon tank stocked with the flashiest fish and corals money can buy. I dream of buying my kids everything they need when they need it, I dream of a brand new fully loaded van, a little hybrid for myself and another one for Man Child. I dream of being able to take Flower Child to the absolute best doctors to maximize her quality of life and her joy, no matter where they might be, or how much it would cost, of being able to search out and pay for a school that truly fits her needs. I dream of Virginia Woolf, and being able to say yes, I have a room of my own to write in, and the time to do so. I dream of indulging the shoe whore who lives inside me, letting her out. I dream of being able to say to the fabulous fancy schmancy schools that have given scholarships to my boys, “Here, take it back. Let me write you a check x 2, so you can offer scholarships to two more kids who need and deserve their shot.”
Dreams don’t cost anything, some would even argue they’re food for the soul. I’m not sure which side of that argument I’d take. Plans, though, plans are something else. Plans are what people do when they have enough, and some extra. When decisions aren’t made out of panic and absolute necessity, but careful thought.
What’s that old saying? Man makes plans and God laughs? I was on Facebook yesterday, trying to catch up on the “news” of my online friends, and saw someone had posted a map of the US, illustrating how many hours would need to be worked in each state at minimum wage each week in order to pay (fair market) rent on a two bedroom apartment. Some were much worse than others, but not one state would afford a two bedroom if you only worked 40 hours. I live here in Gotham City, so that wasn’t exactly shocking. What was shocking were the comments made on the side. So much self-righteousness I was afraid to type a response, surely a viscous sludge that reeked of pomp and circumstance would ooze from between the keys. “Just get another job!…They shouldn’t have had children they couldn’t afford!…Join the army!…Share the apartment with another family!…Who told those people to procreate (yes, I’m well aware I already wrote that, but it was mentioned many times)…Let them go back to their own countries!…”
I don’t know any of the people who posted those comments. I don’t know if they go to the union meeting on Tuesday, the PTA meeting on Wednesday, or church on Sunday. I do know that I, and others I know like myself and my family, used to make plans. It doesn’t take much; the loss of a job, a real estate bubble expanding and then bursting, a diagnosis of a chronic medical condition, to push Average Jane/Joe off the solid weave and onto the fringe. Staying on the fringe and not falling into society’s lint pile, well, that takes a lot. Focus, strength, determination, maybe even the remnants of faith in a better life, possibilities, and dreams.