From a sprawling property with pets, a large house and amenities to a converted garage in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America all in one week: I would say I have seen an extreme difference in class.
Growing up in the tiny town of Wilton, just south of Sacramento, was a wonderful, ideal time of my life. At this time I believed I was part of an upper class society. I had the best of all worlds. My Mom was a partner in a graphic design firm she had developed. Dad was the head football coach at Sac City, the local Junior College. The eleven acres that made up our property let me roam and explore.
My grandparents lived on the property too. Then of course there were the dogs and cats. The names of some of them stay with me. Freeway was the dog my Mom stopped in the center lane of the Freeway on her way to work. PG (Pretty Girl) was a Queensland Healer/Australian Shepard mix that came from a litter of dogs my Dad’s family in Alaska.
There was the pair of Border collies Ellie and JoBob that my Grampa bought for me. There were cats for the barns and cats for the house. All had appropriate names such as Cruiser who liked to cruise along the top of the fence around the perimeter of the property. We owned a few horses such as Slim (Mudslide Slim); he was an appaloosa that my Dad had had since High School. He was old so he was very calm, and great at going just where I told him.
CB (Cinder Bay) was a thoroughbred and full of energy. He used to run around the pastures and “talk” to the neighbors. Then when I was about five my Grampa decided it was time for me to have my own horse. Molly (Good Golly Miss Molly) was a paint. My Dad would go down in the lower pasture and teach me how to ride.
Minus the stray wild turkeys and geese all these animals and people made up my upper class life. Friends were always coming and going. “Jake, can we come hop in the pool after football practice?” “Yes, come over whenever you would like!” The built-in pool off the back deck was a big hit during the long, hot summers in the Central Valley. School opened up a new world for me. As usual my Mom was there to help wherever needed, in the classroom the annual school auction, whatever.
I knew some kids who were not as fortunate as me. This secure world changed when my parents got a divorce. Mom and I moved to Coronado where my other Grandparents live. My Mom had grown up in Coronado and wanted to restart her life with me there. ” Jake, im sorry but we will be moving to my hometown.” “Mom! I do not want to move, I love it here!” “Im sorry bubba.
” For me moving from my home in Wilton with all that I had there was a huge change to moving into a converted garage for 6 months was a big drop in my life. Even though many people do live in converted garages in Coronado, I sure did not want to. Also moving to a new school after school had started was not easy. I felt everyone knew each other and I was not part of the group. My status in life was slipping from upper class to middle or lower class.
My grandparents and my Mom worked very hard to get me through this phase. Gradually, as I made friends, and we moved to a “real” house my life started to be like the one up north. Little League was good for making friends, and the neighborhood kids all felt comfortable at my house. My Mom always had snacks and a smile for them. We now have pets again, Cali my chocolate lab, loves to run and play and waits for me to come home for lunch and after school.
Lacrosse in middle school and high school acted as a step towards climbing back up to upper class groups. The sport is quite expensive to play. I have played for over ten lacrosse teams and I became an independent traveler with friends all over the US. One day when I was younger my mom introduced me to Roger, an old friend of hers. He taught me how to spearfish and the first time we went out together we speared a 52- pound White Sea Bass. I would consider him an upper class person because he owned so many “toys” and he seemed to be living the American Dream.
I finally feel settled with my life in Coronado. My Mom has always found a way to support me in all the sports and activities I have been involved in. From feeling as a little kid, that the world was perfect and special to having a drastic change at the age of 8 has sometimes been a difficult journey. But finding my way and adapting to this new place, I now feel once again I am upper class. This is not so much about the privileges and material things upper class is said to bring. It is more about how I feel as a person.
When I discussed the subject of class with my Grandfather he told me a story about his youth and the way kids on his block in Brooklyn defined class. If you were a great stick ball or stoop ball player –”Man! You were the highest class!” So, isn’t class just a state of mind?