Falling through the Cracks of the American Dream

August 23, 2018|Posted in: Uncategorized

My life, I will admit, is a constant explosion of chaos (with a name like Maelstrom, I figure it’s genetic). There is always SOMEthing going on, which I’ve always felt was ever-so-slightly fantastic. My life is FULL: I don’t have a “bucket list” because I kinda want to do EVERYthing, and there’s no point marking it off a list because I’ll probably want to do it again. The way I’ve always looked at it, as long as I’m doing something I want more often than not, I’m winning.

You’re waiting for the “But … “, aren’t you?

Well, you know me: I hate to disappoint, so here ya go. I love my life, BUT … having crossed that line into my 40s, there are few areas where I’m starting to think, “Y’know, I should really be beyond this by now.” And at the top of that list is “Living in a rent-controlled apartment barely larger than a dorm room.”

Don’t get me wrong: I have said it before, but I love living in San Francisco. There are tons of opportunities here, I’m within driving distance to either the ocean or the mountains, and the city has an overall vibe that just resonates with me. It’s is one of America’s largest progressive cities and seems to cater to those of us who consider ourselves a part of the counterculture.

And I love my apartment: I have great neighbors, I can walk to most of the places I go, and the landlord is responsive–not especially quick, mind you, but responsive. Best of all, I can afford it.

But I also know I am one of the lucky ones.

Median rents in this town have long been the most expensive in the country. Not AMONG the most expensive–THE most expensive. And while the median cost of a home in California–$600,000–is ridiculous, the Bay Area is worse, with many counties reporting a median price over $1 million.

It’s nuts.

Like I said, I’m lucky. But even my rent goes up every year–not by a huge amount, but it’s starting to add up. Other people have it far, far worse: places like Phoenix have become almost impossible to live in, financially–with none of SanFran’s benefits. Millions across the country can’t afford housing, proper nutrition, and are dependent on Medicaid. People with good jobs, here in THIS CITY, are living in their damn CARS!

At one time, the American dream was all about owning your own home. We are living in an era with some of the highest stock market earnings and lowest unemployment rates in our history. And yet, people are living in cars, because they can’t find a place they can afford.

So yeah, it bugs me to think that maybe I should have a husband and a couple of kids and a house in a suburb. But it bugs me a lot more that in the Land of Opportunity, that isn’t really a feasible option for me–and not even a remote possibility for millions of others. Blame the president if you want–I certainly do–but the fact is, we have to take it on ourselves, as well: there are too many of us in this country who ARE lucky for there to be this many people who have to DEPEND on luck just to get through the night.

I don’t know what the answer is. But we can do better, people.