This morning I received a call from someone I know socially from an organization I sometimes interact with asking me to volunteer my time over the course of several days in July. The conversation went a little bit like this:
Me: When in July? We’re in and out of the country that month.
Them: July 26, from noon to five.
Me: Oh, sorry. I’m in Maine that week with my family.
Them: Oh, well. We have these other events too. One in early August and one at the end of the month.
Me: Erm … that’s going to be difficult too. When, exactly?
Them: August 3 and August 30.
Me: Oh, um. From Maine we go straight to California for my husband’s job so we won’t be in the country then, and August 30 is my 40th birthday and we’ll be in Italy.
Them: (snorting) Must be nice.
Me: Yeah, sorry.
She may has well have said, “Bless your heart” – and we all know what that means.
Here’s the thing: IT IS NICE.
And I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry.
I have a good life. We have built a good life for ourselves. We aren’t Rockefellers who were born with silver spoons in our mouths. I come from nothing. My husband and I have worked hard to get where we are. When we still lived in Pittsburgh and Alan worked such long hours that I had to go to his office if I wanted to have dinner with him? I never thought we’d be taking trips to Italy. When we moved to San Francisco and lived in a minuscule apartment, I never imagined we’d live in the type of house we do today. But we worked hard to get here. There have been many nights where come midnight, we were both still working. My first job out of college paid $9/hour. My first job in San Francisco (one of the most expensive cities in the world) – one I regularly put in 50+ hours/week – paid $28,000/year. By the time I retired from corporate communications working for a multi-billion dollar company I made over 4x that. I know we’re not supposed to talk about money openly, but I’m proud of what I accomplished. I am the first person in my family to have graduated from college and during those long days (and nights) sitting at my desk with all the office lights out while everyone else had gone home, I never thought I would get here. So yes, it is nice that all that effort paid off. I know that it doesn’t always and for every person who succeeds the way Alan and I have, there are buckets of those who don’t. I know this. I’ve stood in line with my parents for welfare checks. You don’t need to tell me.
But here’s the thing (well, one of the things): that person making snide, backhanded comments about my life? She’s not one of those people in the bucket either. She has a good life too – it’s just different from mine. She has kids so all of her energy is devoted to her family. While I plan two weeks in Italy, she plans a week at Disney World. While we can decide on a whim to hop over to Copenhagen because a good deal showed up in my inbox, she’s planning her week around her kids’ activities. And that’s fine too … but just as much as we made a choice not to have kids, she decided to have them. I didn’t force her to have three kids within six years. I’m sorry she can’t do the things I do, but it’s not my fault. So her derision? I’m so not here for that.
Which brings me back to her asking for my time. When she snorted I should have said, “You should probably remove me from your phone chain because you just lost me.”