Errands and Epiphanies

“The American Dream”

I could see the gray expanse of suburban Dallas stretching all the way to the smoggy horizon. The sun had just set, from what I could tell from just beyond the bent tip of the airplane wing. 
I’d been buried in my book for most of the flight, but was pleased to be distracted by an announcement of descent and a view of downtown Dallas through the port hole. 

But it wasn’t long after stepping foot into the terminal before I was in a sea of people. Computers laid open on every lap over the age of 19, and iPods were shoved in every ear younger. Children hung on the legs of their parents who were vigorously checking their blackberries, and flight attendants were sneaking a chat on their cell phones to check in with hubby two or three cities away.
Baggage claim was a breeze, and soon their after I sat upon my suitcase in the metroplex twilight looking up at the unusually smoggy sky while I waited for my ride to get there so I could be carted off to Carrollton. 

The last time I’d visited home had been for Christmas, so it was a nice suprise to not only visit but to fly in.
My house smells the same, but my nephew is taller.

The next morning my family’s life went on as usual. At eight-thirty a.m., the house had already emptied out and everyone was off to their various forms of work. I had my mother’s car at my disposal, and a list of errands to run while in the city. I lounged in the quiet for some time, and then went to the bank, to see a few old friends,to get some lunch (and a stomach ache) at a Chinese super buffet, and to the Apple store in Willowbend mall.

I parked in the first garage I saw, in between a Lexis and a H2 Hummer. 
I took to noticing all the cars and guessing how much each one cost, then trying to add the total money in my head, but once I got to the millions, I couldn’t keep up with all the zeros and gave up as I pushed the glass door into the foyer. 

Turns out I parked outside of Neiman Marcus, and I entered the store near the fine jewlry section. I took note of a headless manikin wearing a necklace worth more than my college career, and decided that to be my scarecrow to find my car later. 
Two women who smelled like over-priced perfume looked down their noses at me as I passed their counter of shiny rock rings I have no interest in. 
Three different women in the make-up section offered the prim, young girl next to me samples of their finest goop, and ignored my presence, surely, because of my outrageous choice of shoe wear, (toms). 
I shrugged at someone’s bored husband, and acknowledged his sacrifice of purse holding near on of the glass counters by the entrance to the mall, and was glad to get into the hallway. 

In the Apple store children begged their parents for the biggest iPod. 
“I don’t have enough space,” one little boy cried, “The iPod you gave me for Christmas is black, and I want a white one, that’s got more gigs.” 
Adults huddled around iPhones like newborns, ooh-ing and aw-ing and stroking the screens like little baby noses. 

There were so many people in there I never got help enough from anyone to even ask the question I’d initially shown up for, and ended up leaving just to get out of the mall. 
Something about the recirculated air, the extravagant spending, and the Chinese super buffet were making my stomach churn. 

Why. 
All.
The.
Stuff. 

Cause it’s the American Dream. 

People get an education. 
To get a job.
The job is to save money. 
To be able to live but make enough
To buy the stuff. 

But the stuff will break. 
The cool thing will no longer be cool. 
(digipets, pokemon cards, cassett tapes, polo shirts, doc martins, jnco jeans, and full house hair cuts.) 
The ipod will break, the music will get over played, old, and out of date. 
The computer will get a virus.
The phone will get dropped in the toilet….

Buying all these things for happiness….won’t work. 
(90% of people who have all the things, the cars, the bling, the house, the entertainment center, the media room, the computer stuff, the swimming pool, and the dog named Rex, are living extravagantly in extravagant debt. )

I’m not sure how much of this American Dream I buy into. 

If THINGS and our LIST of TO-DO’s replace PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS we’ll all be empty shells. 
The American dream feeds us materialism…consumer economy…debt….and lies about what success looks like. Is the richest man most successful? Is the man with the biggest house who we aspire to be? But life is about more than things…

What would it look like if our education was used to relate to others–
our things were used as tools to help one another–
our extravagant life styles weren’t worth more than a human relationship…
We valued each other more than stuff…. 

The American Dream just isn’t for me.

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