Hope you enjoy this little tour of my old apartment!
(Warning: sarcasm ahead.)
Over the last 7 days I’ve been moving boxes, furniture, and settling into a new abode. I have a terrific roommate and some good friends with me — all in the same complex. We’re one big, amalgamated family. It feels wonderful to be around and supported and having fun with such great people.
But there’s a foreignness to my new residence. Every time I walk into the brand new apartment (for me and the area), it feels opulent and grand. It’s like I’m a little ant, looking up at the big blue sky — captivated and scared by the scale.
My home has wood floors and a stone-tiled bathroom, which reminds me of a hotel room. There’s fresh, soft carpet in the bedroom to greet me in the mornings. Central air and heating insulates me from the inevitable weather extremes of Iowa. A community center features a fitness room, laundry facilities, and regular staff.
As my friends know (and certainly some of my readers), I’m quite class conscious. When I see inequality and/or inequity, I can’t help but comment and try to change it. This new apartment, full of accoutrements and amenities is a reminder of my privilege. And with that, I feel deeply mixed.
The previous couple years were spent in a batcave-like apartment, which was comically awful. I lived 20 feet from an active railroad, 40 feet from a lurking cell tower, and my views were of a crater-filled parking lot. Despite its misgivings, I felt at home; at times, proud of it. I just never wanted to be above it all — separated too greatly from how many live.
Physical separation from more humble surroundings scares me. I worry that if I move to far from poverty, lower incomes, and more modest livelihoods, I could get swept up in craving endlessly. Perhaps more importantly, that this distance may come at the cost of being able to empathize with those who struggle economically — that I wouldn’t be as inclined to give back.
And now, I feel like I’m in a gated community. The demographics have shifted, as families departed as they couldn’t afford the new residences. The multiculturalism that once filled my old neighborhood has significantly changed. It’s evidenced in the growing number of white people and shiny cars.
I’ve joined the economically privileged, and I’m still wrapping my mind around the shift. I feel both honored to have this place, and unsettled by the way privilege begets privilege — a burdensome path and procession of more, greater, bigger, and taller. It feels paradoxical, as there’s great happiness here for my friends and I, and yet the discrepancy between the haves and the have nots has never been greater.