Local Man, earning just enough to pay the bills and to put himself through school, finds himself exhausted by the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps American spirit. “I don’t mind when other people work hard,” he claimed. “It’s just not something I can sustain, you know? I think I deserve some things.”
City on the Hill
After asking for clarification, he shared the story of his great-grandparents; they were English migrants following the church westward to Utah, setting up a farm, and fighting their neighbors for water. They insisted on forming a city on the hill for the world to see and admire, which had to have the nice side effect of making sure that their children would (spiritually and economically) be a step up from everybody else.
Their crumbling headstones read, “Prepare yourselves to follow me.” Local Man saves a photo of those headstones on his phone.
(Digital Drawing by hawk862, found on DeviantArt)
Great Depressive Episode
Local Man’s grandfather was a bad-ass businessman. He earned his fortune by tooth and nail and grandpapi’s small loan, leaving it to most of his children. He (metaphorically) cut throats and withheld affection from the kiddos, and would scold them for throwing anything away. Local Man never saw the man cry, and he knows his mom probably didn’t either.
Mom, on the other hand, struggles to adhere to her papi’s econo-bad-assery. She only gave love to Local Man, and the city on the hill seemed to deflate when she decided to be an artist. “She’s pretty selfish, when I think about it,” Local Man says.
When I asked Local Man’s Mom, she told me, “That type of optimism ain’t in my wheelhouse. I love Local Man. He’s a good son. But I just can’t sink my life into him, you know? He’s gotta make his own way.”
Time for a Little Feud
“Y’know, some parents try to make their children’s lives better,” Local Man countered. “Tell her that. When I’m a parent, it’s what I’ll do. I’ll understand that my kids deserve my money. That’s the American Dream, you know.”
Your journalist nodded and stammered something about forwarding on an email, or something.