Monday, October 15, 2007

Poor Man, Rich Man

I spent this past weekend in the mountains, and there are some brief observations I wanted to make:

*Because it has been so dry and so warm, the leaves hadn't really turned color yet.

*I saw very few people of color the entire 3 days I was in the mountains, but unlike my trip to West Virginia, I did not feel racially paranoid, at least it wasn't acute. I'm not exactly sure why, perhaps I am more comfortable in my own home state or perhaps people weren't staring at me the way they were in West Virginia (and I was once again with my white Southern boyfriend, so we again comprised an inter-racial couple but really, we noticed nary an askance glance)

*The class/economic polarization and disparity is very marked. We drove through the countryside and saw small farmsteads and trailer homes--indications of rural life and poverty. And about a half hour later we came upon a boutique town that sported views of one of the ugliest condominium sites on the top of a mountaintop (part of a ski resort), golf condos, and a private air strip complete with a few jets parked amidst the lush greenery of the mountainsides, with million+ dollar homes in the background. All of this struck me, somehow, as obscene.

*Aside from the natural landscape and beauty of the mountains, the towns, for the most part, resembled one another in terms of the similarity of shops and restaurants and things to do in the town, itself. Some towns catered more to tourists. Some catered more to wealthy out-of-towners, some to college students, some to hippies. But we basically went from one downtown to another, shopping at similar stores, until it struck me that aside from the detours to the natural surroundings, we were basically taking a shopping tour of the mountains--and that also felt obscene, so we stopped.

That's all my observations for now. The poverty and the wealth is what is going to stick with me the most--the class disparity. Because it just seemed wrong. I know that I should not begrudge people their private wealth, but the conspicuous consumption of it, against the backdrop of people really struggling to make a living, just seemed disturbing.

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