Monday, March 3, 2008

Mulling Thoughts...Class, Society, and Open Enrollment

A few weeks ago when we were in Copper Mtn, the hubby and Sj were skiing, and GL was napping...So what was I doing? Watching CSPAN like any brilliant woman would do. I caught a speech by Michelle Obama and her words have been reeling in my head every since.

This is a good time to get out now or stay and read the words that are in desperate need to escape my brain!

Some things have been bothering me and they all are rooted deeply in my being, my childhood, and my children's future. Mrs. Obama has set that off in me. I tried to find a clip of the speech, but you either have to watch like 30 minutes or the short clips aren't direcly correlated to my issues. So no YouTube, sorry.

Through out my childhood, I never really gave much thought to class and family wealth. If you would have asked me well into my early 20's I would have responded that I was of a middle class family. I lived in a decent suburb, but not the wealthy suburb that just neighbored my town. Although we all went to school together, decent schools.

Appropriately enough in about seventh grade, I needed to wear particular brand names, and I started becoming friendly with the girls from the wealthy part of town. In my family, four children in the three bedroom raised ranch didn't even set anything off for me, as far as class goes. My best friend in junior high, had a magnificent Tudor, complete with a servant's quarters. Her mom drove a Mercedes, carried Louis Vuitton bags, and wore matching jewelry from Tiffany's. I wore brand names, from TJ Maxx. Still I never felt different. Of course the comparisons could go on and on...

Then one day, while sitting in a Race, Class, and Society lecture at the University of Colorado, it hit me. I wasn't middle class. Duh! I was paying my way through college, working a couple of jobs, in addition to living for a year before starting school to garner in state tuition classification. I didn't have a fancy car, I paid my own rent, and bills. H O L Y...was I an anomaly. I was living in one of the wealthiest towns in Colorado, attending University with kids that had money dripping from their pores and endless trusts, and I...I was of a working class family. First generation to get a college degree, mind you.

So what does it matter?

Well see Michelle Obama, talked about the bar always moving. You just try to get ahead and the bar moves. She obviously has more eloquence than I, so I apologize, but those are the words that started my brain reeling.

Which leads me to my daughter and school. My husband and I bought a house we could comfortably afford. We could have chosen a different path, maybe interest only loan, 80-20 loans, a mortgage larger than we wanted, but we didn't. We purchased a home with a fixed mortgage, that just felt right. To do that, we had to leave Boulder and move to a town close by.
At the time we didn't have children and I didn't envision us living here more than five years.

But now we have two girls, I quit teaching to stay at home with them. And, better yet the mortgage doesn't hang over our head with only one income. I love the life we have created, if it wasn't for the schools. If we could move back to Boulder and buy a house, not a condo or a run down townhouse, I would in a heartbeat. If I didn't have to fear a mortgage payment and the absolute need for me to go back to work, my zipcode would be 80020. The problem is the bar has moved. The average priced home in Boulder is hundreds of thousands above where it was when we moved here in 2002. I look in the paper at real estate and houses in my favorite neighborhood are 2 million dollars. Two fucking million dollars. It was never like that, years ago.

I know Sj will get a decent education in our neighborhood, but in my heart I feel that she would get a wonderful and unique education at a school in the City of Boulder. For now, I know it's not in my control. There's a little part of me that wishes my parents shelled out a hundred grand (you know if they won the lottery) to me in about 1999, so I could've used it as a down payment on a $200,000 house in downtown Boulder. The same house is now going for $750,000. That's where the working class past plays into my life and I just keep looking up at that bar.

The best part of my situation is that I know it's temporary. I know I will buy a house I dream of, in a zip code that holds no class boundaries. I just hope it's not too late for my girls.


  1. Cuss, I apologize for my flippant "move out here" comment of earlier today. :( I have a feeling I know where you live, and your schools are ok. Your girls will be ok. We're lucky where we are; we built before the market tanked and while the schools are good, the elementary was so overcrowded it wasn't an option. So I drive nearly an hour round trip (carpool is my salvation). But that's only for another year, and then A's school will be here in town. Thank.GOD. Tom and I taught in BVSD (I taught the Broomfield schools) and we had an inside view of the schools. We also lived in Boulder and moved out to a condo we could afford, then a house we could afford. And we like it here, and that we don't have to worry about losing the house. I know too many people that has happened to.
    And now I'm rambling. I'm sorry. :( Hang in there...

  2. I can definitely see where you're coming from. It feels like more and more is required to get ahead. Plus, you want your kids to have all the advantages. It's enough to scare you to death if you think about it.

  3. come move to europe with me, you know you want to. :) (actually all of what you said is precisely why i am pushing for the move so hard, difficult to justify 86 hour works weeks just to have the bar keep moving.)

  4. I feel your pain. We LOVED living in Boulder. We loved the schools, the parents, the vibe. Everything but the insane house prices. So, we bought outside of Boulder and are commuting in to schools.

    We've been lucky with OE, but we face it again in two years and we're nervous that our kids won't get into the schools with their friends. There is a very good chance we will have to give up a house we love and saddle ourselves with a crazy mortgage (or rent) in order to stay with the schools, friends, and parents we have come to trust over the years.


I always appreciate the gesture to stop and take a moment to comment. Thank you!