I am a white, middle-aged, middle-class woman and occasionally I find myself where white, middle-aged, middle-to-owning-class woman gather—pilates classes, spas, wine bars. It’s often quite painful. I hate to see what is reflected back to me—especially where money and opportunity are involved. So often, the overheard conversation devolves into one upping each other with recommendations of private schools, comparisons of name brand clothes, and stories of expensive vacations.
So, here I am, temporarily back home in Michigan (where I grew up). And, as I drive around, I am reminded how run-down and broken and shabby a lot of things are and have been for a long time. It’s a reflection of the chronic disinvestment in the infrastructure. Street lights are out; a One Way”’ road sign was hit and twisted so many times that it is unclear which street at the intersection it references; roads have patches or their patches; deer carcasses have been left to rot on the side on the highway. Plus, it’s damn cold and gray. After years of living where the suns shines and new things pop up constantly, it’s depressing. I almost moved home a few years ago, and I wonder if it would have been a horrible undermining of my mental state.
But, tonight, I am in a cocktail bar in Bay City. A cocktail bar that, on the surface, could be in tony Boulder, Denver, or Aspen. And a group of white, middle-aged, middle-class women come in for a “book club”. And I think, Dear Dog, here we go. And, sure enough, the conversation turns to allergies and “Sex in the City”. But it never shifts to recommendations for detoxing programs or where to eat in NYC or other kinds of showing off. It’s just a genuine sharing of woes. And suddenly I remember why I love this state SO MUCH.
Tomorrow, I will get together with my own posse of white, middle-aged, mostly middle-class female friends from college to mourn the passing of one of our own and celebrate her life. And I feel like coming home—at least today—was the best decision I could have made. And it feels good to miss my home land and, in a weird way, to miss my departed friend. Thanks, Kat, for bringing me home.