Saturday, July 26, 2008

One City; Two Worlds

The day started at the neighborhood country club. We don't belong (Don't get me started on my opinion of country clubs....) but they allow all the kids in the neighborhood to swim on the swim team. This is very nice of them. We love the swim team. (Even though the meets start at 7:30 every Saturday morning. Yawn.)

I was a Timer for the swim meet in my favorite lane (Lane 6 - lane of the underdogs) and was able to chat in between races with the lawyers, doctors and their offspring.

It is a happy, shiny place. Everyone is white, rich (relatively), well dressed, clean and happy. (One is not allowed to frown whilst at the country club - I swear it is in their by-laws.)

The parking lot is full of Jaguars, BMWs, Mercedes, Volvos, Lexus....and just for kicks: one slightly scratched up Honda Minivan full of whatever trash my children dragged into it that morning.

When I'm at the country club, I feel like I'm:
a) staring in a Hallmark commercial
b) a Stepford wife
c) on Prozac or some other drug that makes everything sunny and bright and cheerful

That's not multiple choice. I feel all of those at once. It's actually not a bad feeling. For an hour or two, you believe that everyone has enough to eat and a place to live; and that the world is peaceful; and that global climate change has reversed itself. Life is grand. I like that.

We left the idyllic country club to go to a birthday party of one of D's friends from school for the afternoon. Not a neighborhood friend, but a friend who lives over by the school.

The party was at a roller skating rink across town, in one of the scariest parts of the city. The roller rink was run-down and pretty skeevy. (Are there any that aren't?) No one in our neighborhood would *ever* host a party there. trust me on that.

1) I was the only adult there without a tattoo
2) Among the mothers I spoke with, I was the only one who is married.
3) I was the oldest person in the limbo contest (Hey - you can't go to a roller skating rink and sit out the limbo contest!) Scratch that, I was the oldest person at the rink, period.
4) I think it was perhaps the dirtiest place I've been all year.
5) At one point, I was seriously afraid part of the fake fabricated ceiling tile would fall on my head.
6) Didn't see any nice cars in the parking lot - but lots of cool bumper stickers and creative uses for duct tape.
7) I couldn't tell you the racial mix - it was so mixed, you didn't even notice one race over another.

Guess where my daughter and I had the most fun?

If you said with the happy shiny rich white people and the fancy pool....BZZZT.

If you said at the scary roller rink with the cheesy limbo contest....Ding, Ding, Ding. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Sometimes I worry about our decision to send our daughter to a school of such poverty. But when I see her seamlessly weave in and out of different worlds - treating everyone the same whether they are the child of a doctor or of a tattoo artist, I'm not as worried.

But next time, damn it, I 'm going to WIN that limbo contest.


LisaS said...

the really poor folks can't afford the skating rink party. so then we go to grandma's house. and for this misplaced southerner, that feels strangely like home, although the skin color is usually quite different ...

my fear about the public schools isn't the poverty & all that comes with it. my kids are like yours: they run with everyone, whether they live in a big house on a private street or in the public housing on the south side. my problem is that the schools don't seem to be bucking the system that has reinforced such poverty over the years. my kids will be fine--i have no doubt of that. but i worry about many of the others, even the ones that seem to be fine right now ...

Bridgett said...

Lisas: right on.

K: What a great picture of a city in a day.

Anjali said...

I would have liked that roller rink, too! Sounds like a great end to the day.