Monday, June 23, 2008

Small-town wealth

From LA to NYC to Jackson, CA.

Yes- it’s a big jump.

This once booming gold mining town has more recently seen a loss in jobs rather than economic growth. However, the poster boards in the real estate office window still promote ranches with streams that possibly still hold the prized mineral.

Jackson was the location for a baby shower for a couple that we have known and loved for years. As they are the first of our friends to get pregnant, we knew there was no way we would miss this hallowed event.

We had a lovely dinner with them entertained by stories of their peculiar new neighbors (who appeared to range in degrees of insanity) followed by a tour of their new home in this scrappy neighborhood.

It was a charming starter home: two bedrooms and baths with beautiful woodwork, large kitchen, and courtyard. After following my very pregnant friend through the halls and her vivid descriptions of decorating schemes, we found ourselves standing in their courtyard talking about their future plans.

It then occurred to me that wealth has a whole new dimension, beyond iconic status symbols and mathematical formulas: wealth can be a relative term.

For this dear couple, wealth was the ability to buy a bank owned house, and with the help of friends and family fix it up. When we toured the home the only completed room was for the future baby girl. Wealth was also the opportunity for Mom to be able to stay home with the baby. Dad maybe on the road for weeks at a time, but there are other young mothers on the block that she can bond with.

To them being wealthy was the ability to build their dream life, in a city filled with family and friends and see their future children grow up in the same fields and forests that they themselves did. Wealth wasn’t a specific number, or object, or even the most coveted address in the city.

Wealth was buying a slice of the American dream.

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