I’m really in a rather unique position when it comes to my class. Yes, most of the time I am middle class. I guess you could say I even identify as middle class. But on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I’m something different entirely.
When I’m with my mom, at my mom’s house (which is most of the time) I live a very privileged life. I’ve got a loving mother and stepfather, plenty to eat, cable, xbox, internet—getting the picture? We go out to eat often, my mom and I go shopping together frequently, and I get to have friends over all the time. I’m really, genuinely happy.
When I’m at my dad’s (Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for a couple hours and overnight on Saturdays) I’m an entirely different person. For dinner, I get two chicken sandwiches from the Wendy’s dollar menu. Maybe a piece of pizza. I sit lay down in the bedroom, watching tv on netflix until it’s time to go home. We never go shopping—for anything. The toaster and microwave are broken, have been for a while. My dad can’t even afford to do laundry at the laundromat across the street—his last pair of jeans is starting to get holes in the knees. I’m sullen, and quiet, and cranky.
The thing is, I used to believe we lived in a meritocracy. I really did. I thought that if I worked hard enough in school and was almost always kind to everyone, then I would have a great life. And for me, that’s probably true. If I manage to get into Harvard, I can go. It’ll take a few loans, of course, but I have so much privilege. My life…it’s basically set for me.
But my dad doesn’t get that privilege and it’s showing more and more every day. He can’t even afford to replace his broken toaster. And he just lost one of his six jobs.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to. There’s nothing I can do. I’m scared for my dad, scared for myself and my brother.
Not to sound whiny, because I know I’m privileged to the max, but my dad said he won’t be able to afford getting us Christmas presents this year. And this really worries me. It means he has no extra money—none. I should have guessed already. I mean, the man couldn’t even buy a damn toaster! Between paying for his rent and his car and child support, he has…nothing.
I’m terrified. What if he loses his home? What if he loses another job?
I remember, a couple months ago, that my dad was about to get hired for this supervisory position at his company. They way his eyes lit up when he talked about all his plans, the places he was going to take us, the things he was going to get. Maybe even a new car, he’d say. Maybe even a new apartment. But then that branch closed down. The light faded from his eyes.
Now? It’s maybe I’ll be able to get you a $2 drink to go with dinner. Maybe we can get tacos instead of pizza for the eightieth night in a row. Maybe….maybe, Sophia, you won’t have to be put in the position of struggling with two class identities.
And someday, I won’t. In four years, I’ll be going off to college. And then it won’t really be my problem anymore. I’ll go on to my priveleged school and live my priveleged life.
But that’s four years from now. Until then?
Maybe I’ll buy my dad that toaster for Christmas.