An Unsought Status

Money was no object. And yet why did it seem to rule over everything?

“I’m the one with no money.” So I hear the voice of my mother, washing clothes, fretting over the pieces of paper or styrofoam that have rattled around in the dryer tubing. They came out of my brother’s uniform; he asked if she could dry them here, rather than going to the laundromat.

It was sad; it was pathetic. Not my family: the state of the world: full of emotions and instances just ripe with pathos. I could not make sense of a mob’s anger; I could only look on and feel sadness. And so, and so: our gradual lowering into ochlocracy.

And the people – you know, the people with real money – not Tottenville money – she rolled down her window and said hi, as if she was anyone else.

I could not: in the instant, bemused attention: in hindsight, oscillation between calm explanation and anger, sheer impatient anger.

Haven’t you understood this is not the way the world works? And to answer my own question: clearly, no. Regrettably, no.

But how could anyone in this setting, and what would be the salve for such? To breezily prescribe travel: to gesture to a map, the clouds. It wasn’t enough: it was the weight of age and experience and constant repetition of patterns that could not teach out these notions in a vacancy abroad, an hour of reading.

It was the object. And my mother, my poor mother, standing next to her stove and professing the triumph of the abstract over the grubby reality that has changed hands: in a moment, I see myself, my origins, the foundation of my ideas, and pride and thought converge and out of me squeeze a tear.

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