Not the usual post, but in celebrating our nation’s birthday tomorrow, I thought I’d post about what this country means to me.
The bra is a symbol.
Let me explain.
My parents are Depression babies, meaning they were both born at the tale end of The Great Depression and right at the beginning of WWII. They both grew up poor – my dad grew up in Indiana to hard working but not well-educated parents, and my mother’s parents never even finished high school. My grandfather had to drop out of school to help support his family and my grandmother eloped with him in the 9th grade and just never went back. But they still managed to make something of themselves because of the opportunities this country presented. My dad’s dad was an accountant in his later years and my mom’s dad ended up working for Fisher Body, a GM Plant near Chicago.
So let me explain about the bra comment.
Both of my parents received a college education, the first in their families. My brother and I grew up in a normal household, but my parents were very tight with money (from their upbringing). They saved and saved, so we didn’t have a lot of unnecessary or extra stuff, which is fine. It makes you appreciate things more, I think. The point is that they had opportunities and they raised my brother and I to appreciate those opportunities.
I was married very young, had my kids, and divorced fairly young, too. The problem was that I’d only worked part-time during my first marriage and really didn’t have much of a skill set when I was suddenly supporting two very small children with not a lot of help. I quickly learned that any money I did have went to the kids, the car, groceries, rent… which left very little for me.
Now, to the bra.
I can only remember having one of them back when my kids were young and I was a single parent. All of my money went for things other than my needs, so I had one bra for years (seriously) and when that wore out, I had no choice but to buy another one. I still kept the old one as a back up. And underwear – well, if I was lucky enough, I got a few new pairs every few years, but my underwear lasted me a really long time. So did the bra. I mean, no one saw them but me, so it didn’t matter if there were holes in them or if they were worn. The underwire would come out of the bra and I would still wear it. My crappy undergarments weren’t of any consequence when there were more important things, like worrying if I had enough money to put gas in the car.
So, the bra was inconsequential in the broad scheme of things. I never had more than two at a time – for years and years.
But that’s the great thing about this country and free enterprise. I was a hard worker and I had a goal – to become a writer and to support myself to the point where I could maybe have more than two worn-out bras at one time. I always believed that would happen and when the opportunity presented itself, I went out on a limb and took it. I had no idea if I was going to fall off of that limb, but I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity. I took the chance.
Thank God it worked out.
The bra became my litmus test of success. Sound weird? Probably. But my husband asked me the other day why I have two drawers of bras, all neatly lined up, in many different colors. I have to have about thirty these days.
I told him why. I bought bras because I could, because they symbolized something. I’d worked hard with the opportunities provided by this great country, and because having more than two bras meant something to me. Some people buy houses or fancy cars, or jewelry to mark their success. Me? I bought bras.
America is a land of opportunity, but it’s not perfect. Far from it. We’ve got some issues right now – there is no denying that. But at the core of our values, I believe we all strive for success and equality, for loving our neighbor, and for standing up for what is right. Never forget those who died to give us this privilege and for the opportunities created by our enterprise system. We’re suffering some upheavals now, but there are people of all colors and creeds and sexual orientation and religions that are working to make this country a better place still, for everyone. I like to think I’m one of them.
I am thankful for a country that allowed a single-mom, nobody like me to make something of herself. And buy more bras.
Happy Independence Day from, me to you. .