My wife Terre recently exchanged texts with a friend in New Jersey. Our friend starts:
“Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have secretly bought a private family home in Santa Barbara. Terre, do you know where they purchased their home?”
“They are four houses down the street from us in our trailer park.”
“Are they in the trailer park?”
At any rate, Terre and I welcome you – and your baby — to Santa Barbara! The Santa Barbara News-Press welcomes you. Everybody who lives here welcomes you!
Well, maybe not everybody. There may be a few who don’t welcome you because you’re rich, and they aren’t. They believe F. Scott Fitzgerald’s character, the Great Gatsby, who says, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
But I say that the rich, they are just like us. We were all born at a certain place and time, with certain parents and under certain circumstances – children of kings or children of paupers. But whatever our beginning, unless we pull back and re-examine the stories and habits we inherited and grew up with, we remain trapped in those stories and habits.
A friend of mine says: The unexamined life is not worth living. Taking responsibility for who we are means making our own judgments. We keep some old habits and stories, and reject or replace others.
I imagine it took courage to leave a royal lifestyle and set off for a new life and a new land. My folks were immigrants 100 years ago. However, their move, as most movements of the world’s poor, came from necessity.
Some people in this country no longer like immigrants, even though every single one of us is an immigrant or has descended from one. Even the native Americans had ancestors who migrated over the Bering land bridge 15,000 years ago.
In your decision to make these changes in your life, it seems evident that you made the judgment: Something is not quite right with a system that passes down anciently gained wealth and privilege through generations. Globally, we are also now examining: Is it right for six billionaires to have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.9 billion people?
One of these six, however, Bill Gates, decided: “No, this isn’t right. I want to use my wealth to help make sure that all children in the world have a chance to grow up healthy.” He talked to another of the six, Warren Buffett, to contribute billions of dollars to do the same. This makes me hopeful.
We would invite you over to our “trailer” for dinner, but we are reluctant to do so during this time of COVID-19.
By the way, where we live really isn’t what most people think of as “a trailer park.” It is a lovely community of seniors who live in manufactured homes. We are, as a matter of fact, a gated community! A brand-new home here would cost only a little over half a million dollars — even though it was brought in on a trailer truck or two. Well, that’s Santa Barbara!
Again, we congratulate you on the move you have made, literally and figuratively. If your finances don’t quite work out, the trailer four doors down from us is actually up for sale right now! It is somewhat dated, but I think you can pick it up for only $330,000. Oh, wait a minute. You have to be at least 55 years old to live here! Sorry.
At any rate, we welcome you as our neighbor and wish your family the best of luck!
The writer lives in Santa Barbara.
Frank Sanitate is a frequent contributor to the News-Press.