One of my dearest friends called my family “landed gentry” yesterday. If you look up the history and definition of that term it suits us almost totally perfectly.
Of course, on my mother’s side the coat of arms dates back to about the 12th Century when we were originally French and then likely fought with William the Conqueror and were awarded a coat of arms for valor. Then, my ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War on that side, obviously, rejected that history in favor of starting a new and more democratic country. But, on my mother’s mother’s father’s side we were serving the aristocracy of Norway until the late 1800’s.
That great great grandfather was a math tutor who skied great distances for his occupation, and then fell very ill because of it. His third son, my great grandfather, was brave enough to set off for the United States when his older brothers inherited their relatively small (a small farm and home as compared to a huge farm and etc. owned by the aristocrats) family property and he was left with no work in a country that was in crisis. And so my handsome great grandpa set sail across the Atlantic and eventually met my dear, unbelievably tough and yet also sweet and charming great grandmother. On the other side is a knighted author (fittingly) and etc. Etc.
But, it’s true. Among the low-key “trust fund kids” and chill socialites in my family there will always be this…strange place. I have a fair amount of cousins who individually receive yearly (other than their actual wage) what would qualify as a full income for a small middle class family (over $60,000.00) purely from family funds and there are others who inherited lump sums. Some are still waiting for their final amount. Actually though, between all the families I’m a part of I’m on the lower middle of things (in my family) as far as what I’ve been given…and I find it funny in the best way. Funny in a good way but also sometimes awkward. Really, I’m nebulous in a nebulous class, my dears. I’m a fairly decent example of what F. Scott Fitzgerald was describing in his quotation, “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
And I think some people hate me all the more because I’m not perfectly aristocratic (or what they think it’s supposed to look like)…
I’m often too “stuffy” for some people’s tastes or judgements but not glitzy enough to convince and wow them to the point where they can brag about being my friend or acquaintance. Yet, others, love the “down-to-earth” vibe they occasionally feel with me. …But, of course, either way the danger of it all is when people say something about something they see as an “elite” experience that they assume I’ve never had real access to or currently don’t. They either snub me in a way that reveals their own unfortunate insecurities or think they’ve found a sympathetic ear who’ll also not understand from first-hand knowledge and merely have to “dream” with them about certain things. And both experiences are a little excruciating for someone who doesn’t want to make others uncomfortable or feel bad and wants to mostly get along with others. Yes, I’m feisty when you push me (to an inexhaustible degree) but I’m actually pretty soft inside.
However I can say that my class is my preference of them all, I think. I like having the freedom and privacy of “being from the Midwest” and having the family I do. It’s casual. It’s nice. It’s honestly hard-working (or at least we keep fruitfully busy)… And it always has been.
Still, when you talk to some people who love glamorous lifestyles and “dream” of it from their apartment (they struggle to afford) or the social equivalent, they sometimes don’t…find your tales quite impressive enough (or certain things go over their heads) or they don’t bother to assume that you’re not just “one of them” so they henceforth think you’re “weird” for your more refined opinions. And yet, on the other hand, many of those people and some others of a similar mindset seek to use you as secret inspiration (or they just flat-out copy you) because they can sense you’re at least partially something they yearn to be. OR sometimes people who think (or want to think) they have a little more than you, but actually don’t really, will feel threatened instinctively if they’re given to such things and they’ll then find ways to insult you using what they ironically admire… And so, it often becomes a case of not quite fitting in anywhere but exactly where you are.
Yet again, I love it. Someday, in the next ten years, if we buy our final main home on Summit Avenue (or nearby as it’s a busy street) I’ll arrive with my realtor as quietly and meekly as a mouse (regardless of what we drive or wear) and we’ll be treated nicely. No one selling me things generally tends to question me and my resources the way some haters have… *laughing mirthfully* But at the same time we won’t be given the “grand tour” as I don’t give off a certain vibe (it’s not necessarily about dress).
You know, those type of ladies? The ones with a “presence”. They’re the sort who arrive and capture the moment around them; swishing beams of energy and awe through the universe as they move? I’m not one of them. I’ve actually been told I was very beautiful (and elegant) since childhood but, still, I’m not…like that. *smile* Again, I’m feisty. But…I’m also fairly subdued and simplistic in my albeit occasionally “stuffy” tastes. And not in a Carolyn Kennedy minimalist way, but in an observing, sensitive and…quiet way. Being honest. I can entertain people, and I love it, but in my natural state I’m more supernumerary townsperson than diva.