In the late afternoon I can often be found rumbling down a side street near my home, cut off t-shirt and gym shorts on, Lil Wayne screaming profanity in my ears as I push for another step, another mile, a little more me time. I admit it, my iPod Nano contains a masterfully blended mix of electronic music, folk, and yes, insanely misogynistic hip-hop. Hey, if it’s good enough for President Obama, is it not for me? Music filled with stories of struggle motivate me to run, often times my run concludes past a sprawling ranch home on a well manicured corner lot.
Maybe it’s just the time that my endorphins finally kick in, or when my blood really gets pumping, but I’m always subtly awed by this workingman’s paradise. The sixties ranch home has an expansive front yard cut short enough for one to practice a few putts on. The back lot is big enough for the Golden Retriever, whom I’ve nicknamed Sparky, to roam freely, the very pup that often greets my passing with a few barks loud enough to interrupt Jay-Z’s verse in my plugged ears. The home, nice on it’s own account, often holds a sport boat in the driveway next to a late model pickup truck. While I’m far from a boat market expert, it seems to be of the $30,000 and up variety. Nice digs for my little blue-collar town of Cayce. So who lives there? It’s a question that often runs through my mind as I pass by the place in exhaustion.
What do those folks do for a living, are they young or old, happily married or miserable? Look at that boat, they must be happily married with that thing in their driveway, get in a fight? Take a soothing ride on the waters of Lake Murray, bring Sparky the retriever, and enjoy life. All is forgiven, or is it?
I believe many in America, and beyond, aspire for something like this house might possess within its 50 year old brick walls. 3 beds, 2 baths, big yard, a few kids, family pup, and of course, a sporty boat. Awww, how that boat glimmers in the sparkle of the street light that covers it with fluorescent illumination each night. With a boat like that, the American dream has been reached, mission accomplished, live there for a lifetime, and enjoy all that this great southern city has to offer, right? Wrong.
Can you imagine my dismay when, one day not too long ago, the boat was gone from the driveway. While Sparky still came to the fence to acknowledge my passing by, he didn’t bark this time, in fact, the dog looked a little sad. Maybe this nuclear family was on a vacation, and old Sparky had to stay home, maybe the boat will be back tomorrow I told myself as I continued down the long road, past more feeble abodes.
A few days later, after getting back from a business trip, I ran my normal route, bobbing up and down with the rhythm of the music in my ears, so excited for my upcoming visual affirmation of the American dream, when low and behold, as quick as I could approach the home I couldn’t help but notice a for sale sign that donned the now less than perfectly cut front yard. First the boat is gone, now the house is for sale? What happened? If only Sparky could tell me. He sat quietly in the yard, eyes fixed not on me, but on that for sale sign. Surely they’d come back for him, but where they’d go, and how come this American dream never turned out like I thought it would, only the Lord knows.