Friday, December 08, 2006


75 Henry
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

One might wonder why I seem so concerned with money, with rich vs. poor, with the evils of capitalism as I see them. But the reason is fairly simple, and comes from my own history.

When I was young and my parents were still together, my father had graduated third in his class at U. Penn law school, one of the top law schools in the country. My mother was also an alumna of Barnard, another "elite" school. The town where they moved after my father's law school was small and provincial, and most people there were blue-collar workers, so my parents were at the top of the socio-economic hierarchy. My father became a partner at a very old prestigious law firm in Philadelphia, and I imagined he made a very good income. There were no money concerns that I could tell. My mother had her thoroughbred horses, our house was nice (although quite humble by the standards of people in more affluent towns). We were not denied opportunities because of lack of money.

Since I didn't know any wealthy people at that time, all I could figure was that my family was comfortable, that money was never an issue; my father was one of the first people I had known to buy the then-exotic Audi sedan from Germany.

But when my father and mother split, quite acrimoniously, it was as if the plug had been pulled. I don't know the specifics of the financial arrangements, but suddenly there was no money for piano lessons. There was no money for much of anything. Often my father would "forget" to send my mother her monthly check. Because she had been out of the work force for almost fifteen years--she had last worked as a teacher and editor--my mom could not find a job that paid a decent salary. This lack of money made my mother very tense, and she made no efforts to hide her distress from my brother and sister and me. So I developed this sense of how tenuous things can be; how in an instant you can seemingly have no worries, and suddenly you are sure the electricity will be turned off.

I should really get over it. I have come a long way. But when my mother died she had almost nothing. I still have a lot of anger toward my father for putting us all through that ordeal. But I have mellowed about it. I am an adult, responsible and self-reliant. And that is the past.

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