Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Money." --Pink Floyd

I can hardly grasp the fact that my first summer as a Playmill Player is nearly over. Only a little more than a week! The season is slowing down, we're going down to one show a night again every now and then, and we're trying to play as much as we can before we have to leave beautiful Montana.
My first summer as a Playmill player, and at the end of it, I've got so much more to carry around with me throughout life, none of which is monetary.
Tonight we only had one show of "Plaid," so afterwards a group of us went out to dinner at a nice restaurant, just because we could. Former Playmill player and friend of many a cast member Jon-Peter Lewis also joined us, and I'm pleased to say he's not nearly as insufferable as I remember him being shortly after the whole American Idol craze. (See I even provided a link to his site...) We had a nice little chat about Paul McCartney and shared a dinner roll. Although I think we could probably be friends, I can't get past the difference in our pocketbooks.
Somehow, regardless of how nice they are, I can't help but feel slightly uncomfortable about people who are obviously very wealthy. I suppose it really doesn't have anything to do with them...it's all me. As much as Jon-Peter is a nice guy, and as much as his head has shrunk back down to a satisfactory size, I can't help but be acutely aware of the fact that his jeans probably cost him $200 and mine were hand-me-downs. That he ordered both chicken tenders AND a $30 steak, whilst I was trying to decided BETWEEN a baked potato and dessert, because I could only afford one of them. That he doesn't feel like getting rid of his truck which costs $70 to fill up, just because he likes it too much, and I have to cross ice-cream and pantyhose off of my shopping list because I have to make a $50 cell phone bill every month. I can't help but resent Jon-Peter Lewis simply because he makes twice what my father does in a year. Jon-Peter didn't finish his Bachelor's. My father's preparing to work on his PhD.
I'm happy with my life, I really am. It's only when I come in contact with people who are rich am I aware that the world thinks I shouldn't be happy unless I'm rich too.
In a strange way I feel I have the upper hand on people with lots of money. Although in a capitalist society, that's far from true in many ways. I know what it feels like to really work hard for something, at the bottom of the ladder, in the simplest ways. Jon-Peter makes over $150,000 in record sales alone each year, doing things not too different from what I'm doing right now (for substantially less). But I also know what it feels like to wipe the sweat off my brow after mowing the neighbors lawn, knowing I now have enough spending money to buy souveniers on an upcoming choir trip. I know the satisfaction of coming home at night after unloading 3 semi-trucks worth of freight, with a paycheck that I beyond earned.
And yes, I do know the ache of wanting something that is monetarily impossible to get when you want it. A trip to New York City, a new computer, a used car to drive you to and from work. But along with that ache comes a complete knowledge that it is temporary. It's the same ache that drove you to extra chores to get that Safari Barbie or that Lego Pirate Set. It's just that we know ache more logically, and for different things. But I sometimes wonder if we won't look back on these things the same way we do old toys now...remembering with a bittersweet smile HOW BADLY you wanted that something and how it really didn't matter in the end.
I have food on the table, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and monthly bills made on time. As far as I'm concerned, it's enough. Of course, a new car would get me places faster. Of course a new computer would be a lot funner to play with. But they wouldn't give me the same feeling of satisfaction if they came to me easily.
I've nothing against the system of capitalism on which our society is built. It was just an interesting experience for me to compare my life with someone very close to my age, who is in completely different financial circumstances. I hope Jon-Peter never reads this, but if by some fluke he does, I hope he knows that I don't hold his wealth against him, nor do I judge him for how he's come into it.
My life is brilliant and absolutely without frills. I'm poor, but so far, happily so, and the frustrations of poverty only make what little occasional wealth I have all the more miraculous. I haven't a clue sometimes how I've made it thus far, and I'm all the wiser for it.

1 comment:

Vaughn said...

Reading this Blog established a huge bank account of respect and trust between us. I am so thankful that you, who I have come admire and appreciate in the last little while, have come to know and appreciate the value of good old-fashioned nasty sweaty work, and work in general. I just connect better with workers, and I trust them more. If you ever have a chore and would like a hand, call me up. You are a great friend, and I can think of few things that make friendships stronger than togetherness work.

As far as money, God save us; I hope we make it! (Though as workers I have faith that we will).