I feel fortunate.
As a young boy growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in a small city in Southern California, I recall walking by beautiful townhouses in the wealthier part of town and thinking to myself what the rich people I saw living within must be like. I was sure I would never be able to live that way and had a difficult time even conceiving of the idea.
One of the benefits that my generation had was being born soon after WWII. Although my parents were uneducated and poor by any standard, our mother was a strong woman. Managing and maintaining a house while raising 10 children required tremendous will, organization, and planning. Fortunately, the country was beginning to experience a surge of economic growth that hasn’t occurred since. The benefit of this growth was that jobs were being created as the economy expanded. And although our father never worked at anything other than as a field hand, mostly picking citrus, his children were all able to leave the fields and pursue careers that would allow them to own their own homes and raise their children. Comparatively, prices for commodities were low so owning a home and affording a car were within reach.
Growing up in that era or in my neighborhood wasn’t all peaches and cream. Socially and politically, there were many hurdles to overcome, but the economic surge created a burst of creativity and a golden age in the arts. Jazz blossomed with the likes of Coltrain, Bassey, Miles, Baker, Brubeck, and Evans. Rock ‘n Roll, Hollywood, literature, theater, dance, and many other arts saw new and exciting innovations. Because of financial assistance and equal opportunity programs instituted in the sixties, the possibility of attending a California university became a reality. Jobs were plentiful and one could retire from a company after a life-long career with benefits.
Funny how your own circumstances (as a child), can put a heavy curtain in front of your eyes. If you grow up poor, your parents struggle just to raise you, you don’t have a role model to look up to or to guide you, and you are made to believe that a higher standard of living isn’t possible for you, it is very difficult to pull that curtain aside.
So I feel fortunate. I am living a life I couldn’t conceive of. I have seen most of the US, have traveled to many countries, and have even lived abroad. And I have been able to share this with someone who understands, appreciates, and loves me. I’ve made many missteps in my life and hopefully won’t make others. But the one thing that I know for sure is this — having the right person in your life is what matters the most. Nothing can replace that. Not money, nor material things, nothing. Being in love, everyday lifelong love with an intelligent, kind, generous, hardworking, and beautiful woman……..is what matters the most.
I feel fortunate.
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!