Well, I called my mother yesterday, she is in a Buddhist retreat in north-east Hungary; working on a big Buddha statue. Yes. I kid you not. My mother is a sculptor, she is also a semi-Buddhist (or something to that effect). She is also “posh”, in her Hungarian post- or rather pre-socialism kind of way. In other words, she is not really posh, but she is not working class, either. She comes from a successful, relatively affluent family, but for some reason she carves huge pieces of marble… Anyway, she has had a relatively good life, she is educated and… She is not happy with my recent “career choices”, to put it mildly. So she says stuff like “why don’t you come home and get a proper job? You are 33, you have skills. [this I found especially amusing “you have skills” – gee, thanks, mama…] Why do you have to wait tables?”
You see, my granddad, my mother’s father was a distinguished surgeon, from a long line of doctors, lawyers, professors and Calvinist preachers. He did relatively well, despite the socialist regime’s establishment’s obvious “aversion” to middle classes and all. Because he was that good a surgeon, I presume. He never did join the party, marched with communist pride on labour day or the like. Not that they were rich. No-one was rich then. They were relatively comfortable. To make this very long story short (because my idea of “rich” changed, too. And anyway, what is rich? Who is rich? What is wealth?) it was “presumed” that everything is going to stay that way forever. As this is what one presumes. Or somehow we felt that it was natural and never thought it could be different. Grandpa and the family took care of it all, we had a safety net. We had jobs, connections and roasted duck on Sundays. And then I made a different choice, I chose to walk away when I was 18 and moved to New York on my own.
So, today’s sermon is partly about choices. The series of choices I made that took me here, to London. I am now 33, an immigrant, childless, single (okay, that is not strictly true, but unmarried – she added for dramatic effect) waiting tables (again, if I am lucky). I have a partner, thank god, who works, so I am not likely to end up homeless, or staving. But I would probably have to die before I claim benefits. That is the proud, paranoid immigrant in me, you see. Which is another thing my mother knows nothing about. Being an immigrant, that is. All Hungarians are paranoid, so she knows paranoia, she just probably feels it is natural….
The thing I like and hate the most is that I am not middle class anymore. I hate that looking back I can see how narrow minded and ignorant I was. I also hate my new-found insight into how the other half live. Because it sucks. It sucks that my blissful faith in myself and that everything was going to be alright is gone. It was just inconceivable that it can be otherwise. It will all work itself out. Surely. I am “special” so people will see that and will give me work. Or whatever – did not think about it in detail (or anyway). One of the reasons people judge one another is because they cannot see beyond their own life, it does not affect them. It is not their problem, it is not their life. So, no, unfortunately I am not so very sure all is going to be well. I am just hoping…
Anyway, my situation is discouraging, really. It is for now, at least. So, upon seeking balance, I screamed at my mother, told her she knows sod all about what I am going through and she definitely is not helping. She was slightly offended. She said something along the lines of she would help if she could. And here I thanked her and thought: “thank heavens, she cannot help, what would happen if she did.” Well, here I am 33 and I have to figure it out. Again. Please, please, please whoever and wherever you are, I beg you, let me land that waitressing job….