I understand poverty because I live poverty. Officially. My income numbers, as a single mother, are bona fide poverty numbers. We qualified for reduced price school lunches and medicaid. My daughter gets a fine financial aid package from the expensive private school she very deservedly attends. We get hand-outs from the church, without even asking for them! And while I might live a life officially labeled as that of the 'working poor', I am, most assuredly, not poor.
No, I can't afford a car and walk most everywhere, except for when I can get a ride. It's true I don't leave this village very often. I live on the side of a very steep hill rising up from the river, and I am quite fit from hauling groceries up that hill home after work. I am a regular beast of burden, sleek and strong. And tired! Make no mistake, I know tired. I work 2, sometimes 3, jobs, besides caring for my house. But tired is a friendly companion like any other, giving me the most perfect reason to avoid even more tiring social encounters!
I keep the thermostat low, here in the frozen north. I dress in layers. I fill the cracks in the back door with those free newspapers that arrive weekly.
I cook up a big pot of beans every Sunday and eat burritos all week.
I have a simplified sense of need. I am naturally not materialistic. I also have this annoying habit of counting my blessings.
And, I have no portfolio to mourn now that the economic shit has hit the fan. Recession? What recession? My economic life, my economic reality, has been a recession for so long now I probably know no other way of functioning.
I have been blessed with the gift of crow sight, an affinity for shiny treasure, and so, I am a natural scavenger, whose eyes are always seeking free, usable stuff--albeit unconsciously.
I guess it is also true that I am just a piss-poor capitalist and a woman who made bad relationship choices, and yet, somehow I manage, just like the little birds out in the ever deepening snow and the single digit temperatures. They fluff up their feathers, stick together, nibble at seeds, and keep singing.