Thanks Clarice. I was so inspired by this thread I picked up the phone a few times this week and called my pseudo family on the peninsula. You know what, they were really happy to hear from me. It is so easy to tap my phone and get them instantly it seemed kind of ridiculous drifting away and then torturing myself about it. It was good catching up. Even if the only time we had to talk was during their 237 commute. I had to time it right so we could chat about non essential stuff.
Los Altos was a weird place. It is just concentrates this certain class. So much is driven by fear and envy there. Freakish. I rented my grad school apartment a block from the country club on arriving to the valley. I ended up staying in the area half of my life.
That was awkward with friends and family. I recall my first boss squared asking where I lived and I said near the CC. He said, “nice, I live near the country club. Where?” I could feel the tension building. I said, “near the back nine on the creek.” He was silent. I dumbly pursued, “sir, where do you live?” He stammered out, “on Fremont near 85.”
Big faux pas for young Sclass. Boss squared stopped chewing his food. I basically called out that he was not a Los Altos Hills resident but a lowly Los Altos resident. Worse, he lived on the Cupertino border God forbid. And he’d be mouthing off how he lived near the country club. My boss jumped in to smooth thing out, “Sclass rents a room in a home up there.” Boss squared smiled and exhaled. He was back in a good place knowing he’d sold his soul to HP for good cause. No little kid could snatch that which he’d paid dutifully for.
That’s how twisted those people get. It happened half a dozen other times with co workers. Guys screaming, “What!? How do YOU afford to live there?!” Seriously rude talk from people I’d just met. I guess I was supposed to answer I lived in Sunnyvale which was more appropriate for an engineer at that time. Oddly relatives also made mental notes that I stayed in town after moving to a home near downtown. “Do you even own that place?” One would rudely ask. Another would answer, “no he rents it and it’s a tear down.”
“But why?” Another cousin would say, “how are you going to save money renting? You just rent there to look rich? One day you’re going to have to come back down to earth and buy a place like the rest of us in Milpitas or you’re gonna destroy your financial future.”
So fast forward to today. To all these SV folk I guess I was “posing” living in a rented multimillion dollar pile of straw in downtown Los Altos. I finally was going to get what I deserved for not living at my station for 25 years. Heck, I was supposed to live at Escondido Village with the rest of the destitute Stanford students, then buy my first home in Santa Clara, and make payments on it by kissing ass and politicking at Intel or HP till I got all obsolete. But no. I refused to take their life/financial wizdumb and presto, I jump out of the hat and I’m retired!
“What, how?!? That guy the Los Altos renter?! He must be penniless. He doesn’t own a handful of Santa Clara County soil. He never saved a penny posing up there! He couldn’t be...uhh at best he’s far behind us because we followed the SV recipe, we married, bought a home, went to work at the majors, traded up a home. How? I know he’s pretending to be retired. He’s like a frog that dove under water to escape, pretty soon he’ll come up for air just watch. Sclass you go back to work yet?”
No. And they are all still slaving away in the Silicon mine at 50+. A scary place in tech.
“I...I didn’t know you could do that Sclass.” (Translate I thought you were poor). “How does it work?”
And now for the lit lighter tossed into the pool of gas. Get ready for it. “Well, it takes a long time to explain but let me break it down into the thirty second version, you save up some money, invest it and when the interest it throws off is equal to your paycheck you resign.”
“B-b-but that like being retired. That’s what retired people do.”
Right. I nod. I shrug. I stare. I smile.
This is not conducive to friendships. How do you face that? I really cannot expect my old friends to voluntarily show up and have this rubbed in their faces. It’s hard enough when a friend gets rich. All of us have wanted to see somebody we love fail...at least once. It’s really hard to accept all the religion they’d preached and lived was wrong and delivered them to their present hell. House rich, cash poor. Insecure employment.
Awww. Painful, time to go to the spa on Main Street for one of those hot stone and cucumber eye treatments. Or maybe time to head over to East West Books and find some “meaning”. Gotta forget the freak Sclass. Get him outta my sight I can’t look! He violates the unified theory of SV.
How’s that for Peninsula culture?