When I started this blog, the title was a very specific reference to the work it was about. I was a tier-two autoworker in the post-bankruptcy Chrysler. I loved the title, because there had always been the belief in my family that Detroit was the Promised Land–“where you could change your life without changing your class,” my mother always says. But it’s all different now. For me, I mean. I’m no longer in the plant, and I’ve changed my life–and my class. The disconnect I feel trying to sort out a much more comfortable middle-class existence has me in a similarly unsettled state as when I started writing this blog. I’ve since gotten married and had two more kids, so now I’m a stay-at-home suburban mom. My husband is a doctor. We don’t have the kind of financial pressure that pretty defined my entire adult life. Things should be pretty gravy, right?
Except, they’re not. I’m more settled into our life now, but for a while I was so incredibly conflicted and wracked with guilt that I could hardly function. Guilt because I know how hard people work, and stay poor. And we’re living this great picture of American meritocracy, colliding with privilege of all kinds. My husband has worked incredibly hard to be able to provide the kind of life we have, but he has also been the beneficiary of all the best public schools, two professional parents, and plain old fashioned white-male-cis-hetero privilege. I’ve spent my whole life watching people work just as hard and end up with so much less. It’s crazy-making.
So I’m going to try and sort some of this out, for my own self. I have a lot of contradictions cooking right now, so I think I’ll keep the title of the blog, even though the work is so different. It still feels like I’m in some kind of Promised Land, just not sure whose or who I got here or whether I belong. I still feel like I’ve been handed a periscope and a mirror, with minimal instruction for which one to use, when. I have a lot to think and say and write about class, about gender roles, about the nature of work in a family (paid and unpaid), about geography and development, all the things that I guess everyone thinks about. Maybe some folks have an easier time with them, but I just feel so rife with contradiction. It’s also been a long time since I’ve tried to write anything resembling an essay form, so I hope to strengthen the writing as time passes. Thanks for joining me.
In solidarity as always,
Elisa, Stepchild the Promised Land