bliss-sad's Diaryland Diary


privilege and perspective.

Devon's family has always been gracious and welcoming of me. They're incredibly nice people and have gone out of their way to ensure that I feel welcomed into the family.

The only complaint that I have about them is that they often treat me like a poor, uneducated hick. I mean, I know that I live in the middle of nowhere in a state famous for having more pigs in it than people, but it's not as if we don't have electricity or internet. I mean, aside from a week spent working in the fields when I was 14, I haven't stepped foot on actual farmland. The only time I spent in tractors and combines was in my rebellious days--when my friends would steal their parents equipment and we'd ride around in combines drinking beer.

Okay, so maybe I'm not doing a good job of defending myself against stereotypes here, but I think you get the point.

In addition to treating me as if I will run from the television in terror because it's so realistic, they also treat us like we are on the verge of poverty and starvation.

I mean, I know I've mentioned money quite a bit in the past several months, and it's true that we are on the lower-end of middle class, but we're not doing as bad as everyone on his side seems to treat us.

We don't go on lavish vacations because we can't afford to, we don't own brand new cars because we don't want to kill ourselves making a monthly payment. We don't own the best, most cutting edge technology because it's largely unnecessary and because I'm an insane conspiracy theorist. We don't have credit cards because we don't believe in spending money you don't have and because we understand how interest rates work. We own all of our assets out-right--our home and our 2 vehicles. We have something like $11,000 in debt (student loans and medical bills exclusively) and our assets are appraised at nearly double that amount. So, while we're poor and have to make sacrifices and don't always get to do cool shit, we are, essentially, worth more than we owe.

On paper, we're doing extraordinarily well for two twenty-somethings in the early stages of marriage. Yet, no matter what, every interaction with his family leaves me feeling filled with shame.

My husband's father is a retired Pharmacy Technician who worked for the state of Michigan for 40 years. He lost his home to foreclosure when Devon was 18 and had to file for bankruptcy. It's only been in the last 2 years that he's been able to dig himself out of that hole, and while I think that doing so is something to be proud of, I find his level of judgement infuriating. How dare he mock me and the life I've built for his son when I've been able to accomplish more at 25 than he has ever been able to do? How dare he make me feel bad for my humble 2 bedroom, single story ranch-style abode. It might not be the prettiest house in the world, but they will have to rip that building from my cold, dead fingers. I will never lose it, and I made sure we put ourselves in a position to where we wouldn't have to.

His aunt and uncle are the worst offenders, though. His uncle is a magician who tours internationally, lecturing and teaching. He's a member of the International Brotherhood of Magic (which sounds a lot like some Hogwarts shit to me), owns a costume shop and a haunted house with his wife and is, generally speaking, a pretty impressive human.

They've always been very kind, but his aunt is always sending me messages asking about when we will be able to visit Florida or Michigan. She'll send me noticed about "cheap airline tickets": only $800 dollars round trip, plus baggage fees! She lives in a world where she doesn't have to give consideration to every expenditure, and while I hope to live like that one day, there's simply no way I can drop a month's worth of bill money on a 4 day vacation! When I tell her that she'll counter with, "Well you could drive!" And that's true....but when you factor in the added time needed to make the trip and the fact that I don't receive paid vacation, the trip is once again out of reach.

Don't get me wrong, there's no bad blood here and we've been able to get out and see the family on a semi-regular basis....I just feel so fucking judged all the time.

Recently, Devon was speaking to his father about general happenings with the family--what everyone has been up to and that sort of thing. Then he dropped a bit of a bombshell on us: the house that Devon's great-grandfather built--the house that Devon's grandparent's lived in their entire married life and the one that holds the only happy, healthy memories from his childhood--is being foreclosed on due to failure to pay taxes.

Devon's cousins (his aunt and uncle's children) have been living in the house for almost three years now, and in that time they have never made a single payment on their taxes. My father-in-law received a notice three years ago that they'd failed to pay their 6 month tax, so he ponied up the $700 and redirected the mail to go to them.

And, that was the last time it was paid.

Apparently he received the statement because the house is still in the name of Devon's grandmother.

He made a call to Devon's aunt and uncle to speak to them about it and he was told that they were unable to help because the building their costume/magic shop is in is also being foreclosed on. He was told that the process takes three years and that they didn't seize assets for the first year, so that it was nothing to worry about.

I was floored by this news. I mean, I know it's hard out there for a pimp, but I can't imagine living the kind of life where a foreclosure notice doesn't cause and immediate panic attack. Also, I have this overwhelming sense of, "Are you fucking kidding me?!"

The people sitting in their ivory towers judging the life that I've built are incapable of paying their fucking bills. They might lead rich, exciting lives full of take-out food and vacations to wherever-the-fuck, but they are drowning in a sea of debt and horrible decisions. The people who judge me for doing things like meal planning and grocery shopping in bulk and refusing to own a credit card are the same people who play the foreclosure game! I mean, I could do anything and go anywhere, too, if I had a piece of plastic that granted me instant gratification.

Devon is infuriated about it, and I understand completely. I'm not exaggerating when I say that his great-grandfather built that home--I mean that he laid the bricks for the foundation and hammered almost every nail into place. His grandparent's lived their almost every day of their marriage. They had children and raised a family in that house--and nobody is the least bit worried that they are looking at losing it.

It's kind of insulting, frankly.

The whole thing kind of makes me laugh, to be honest. And it's given me quite the dose of perspective.

My grandmother was a mormon, and while I think that it's a cultish institution that brainwashes people, they do have one fantastic principal: You should avoid debt at all costs. The only things you should go into debt for are your home, your health and your education. I've lived by it my whole life, and I have a lot to show for it.

I might not have a photo album full of pictures from all the amazing trips we've taken, but I've bought 2 houses and paid them off in full before the age of 25. From the moment I was 18 years old, I've owned every car that I've ever driven. Every piece of furniture I've purchased has been paid in cash---fuck that no money down and no interest for 6 months bullshit.

Everything I own I have slaved, saved and sacrificed for. So next time his family gets all judgmental and starts implying that we're in need of help, I will smile quietly to myself knowing full well who the real adult is.

10:41 a.m. - 01.29.15


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