class rage speaks
Ruminations on the personal experience of being poor and my journey toward being fully myself in spite of classism's silencing and setbacks. Here's to feeling a little less alone.
I mention this because it’s an issue that I have trouble with as a direct result of having grown up poor. But being someone’s houseguest has always caused me a huge amount of stress.
In my house, growing up, there were six of us kids and my parents in three bedrooms- three kids in the girls’ bedroom, three in the boys’. We had no guest bedroom, and only one bathroom for everyone. The few times in college that people I knew came to visit, they had to sleep on an air mattress in the dining room, and couldn’t shower because our shower is cold and unreliable and mildewy.
In middle school and high school, I never, never felt comfortable bringing friends home- only my boyfriend, and only after I had known and trusted him for a while. I was ashamed to be so poor, to have my house be so small and broken-down and messy from the stress of having to fit so many people into so small a space.
So having or being a houseguest is completely alien to me. I have a vague awareness of what it means- changing the sheets in the guest room, being polite to the guest in certain mandated ways, providing for their sustenance and entertainment while they’re staying with you.
The first time I spent Thanksgiving with my partner and his family, I was nervous and fearful the whole time. Should I bring my own towel? Should I make the bed when I got up in the morning? What should I say to people? What should I eat, and how? I worried that in something I said or did, I would betray myself- reveal my poverty and the lack of finesse in my upbringing, and inadvertently come off as impolite and stupid.
In the end, of course, it was okay- and I figure it usually is. But it was still intensely stressful to try and figure out how to navigate that role.