Class & Conscientousness: Thoughts Over Saffron
This week, I found myself in an ice cream shoppe, devouring delicious cold mangoes and tiredly contemplating class on my wedding anniversary. It’s funny what comes out of your head when you’re tired yet feeling celebratory.
I don’t care much about class in the societal sense. It has its presence, and I notice it a vague sense that one notices one’s surroundings. When I’m on the bus, many of the people who surround me have stretched, stained, or torn clothing. Missing teeth and body odor are frequent on buses and at bus stops; how odd that the majority of class is determined by appearance.
It’s also determined by word choice, which may or may not reflect education. How funny that my religion defines both of these traits, to some extent: we have modesty and language guidelines. Does this mean that religion attempts to transcend class?
The thought along class lines came about because I was watching the people around me; I was sitting in the window while licking an orange cone, looking out across the courtyard. Most of the people I saw were physically very boring; no one dressed in anything that caught my eye; no one had interesting hair styles or clothes. Of course, some of this has to do with the types of people who live in Utah and who frequent malls like the one we were in: malls in general are geared toward upper-middle class women, and in extension, their children and their partners.
Yet, it was Just’In’s idea to go to this mall, and there we sat, he in his loud Hawaiian shirt and I in rich saffron silk and a funny hat, both of us carrying a load of books: our treasure-catch from bookstores. I contemplated simple facts, sitting there in the window: I knew Just’In was of a slightly lower class when I dated him, but I obviously didn’t care all that much about the fact because I married him. His parents are interesting: his mom is probably at poverty level and his dad and stepmom live as middle-middle class people, both working, but both remodelling their small four-bedroom house.
I went to a high school of mostly inner-city kids because of the programs that were there, and most of my friends were of a slightly lower class than I was. I didn’t live in the same neighborhood they did, nor did I care much about our money status. I lived in the neighborhood of one of the rich schools in the city, but I chose to attend school elsewhere. I didn’t care about class, nor did I ever stick my nose into the air or down into the ground in blissful ignorance. I also didn’t associate with the popular preppies or the people who might be considered of highest class.
I find the people I’m friends with are interesting and vivid. I just naturally gravitate there. We dress colorfully, we throw around fascinating ideas, and we have scintillating conversation. I have friends who are thinkers, artists, dancers, laughers, musicians, and true geeks. I like to think that I choose to surround myself with people who transcend class and monetary classification in general. I always knew I’d marry a poor, starving artist or a teacher. Realistically, we’re barely above the poverty level, mostly because we’re just out of college, and as frugal as we are about money, I don’t think any sort of classification crosses our minds very often. We’re happy living as we are, even if we’re not where we want to be, geographically.
I’m curious as to what you think: is this an American trait, this mild yet intentional ignorance to class lines? Have I covered all the traits that define class, and are we more conscious of class than we think? Do you see it around you more prevalently than I?