Essay / March 2017 / Nick Brennan

The American Dream

nick

 1

It cannot be crushed. It can be achieved by all, all of those who meet certain requirements. Indestructible, inspirational, personal, yet internationally desired. It comes at a price; there is no standard price. Some are born with it, sparkling in their bright eyes. Some are born with it, already completed by their parents, or their parent’s parents. It comes neatly packaged in a white picket fence, with a lush, green grass bow. I have searched for it. I have shuffled down the aisles of Walmart, but it was not there. I could have sworn I saw it on the top shelves at Costco. Amazon didn’t have it, either. Perhaps it’s for Prime members only.

2

The American Dream has been shown on television for ages. The happy family, with 3 kids, 2 parents, mom and dad. They’re not perfect, they fight. The dad has a standard job—one—which in our economy couldn’t support the lifestyle of the family. They own a house with a white picket fence and a lush, green lawn. Surrounded by neighbors, with one minority family next door. The wife, also known as mom, is attractive. The husband, also known as dad, is relatively unattractive. The parents fight, but they remain together and happy, despite modern statistics that say they won’t. But that’s the American Dream. Holding on by a thread, quickly falling away based on the statics that surround it. I pulled on the loose thread from the expensive sweater, and it all fell apart, to just a string on the floor.

3

American Dream starter kit, free for all. Pop out the plastic pieces, pop out the brick walls and hardwood floors. Pop out the windows, pop out the curtains for blocking the prying eyes. The eyes that want to know how you achieved the American Dream, the eyes that want nothing more than to tear you down. Pop out the chlorine-filled pool and the garden; it gives the wife something to do. Pop out the roof and chimney, protect yourself from the harsh weather, the same weather that thousands of others suffer through every day, the curtains luckily block that out, too. Pop out the kitchen fridge, always stocked with food. Pop out the garage fridge, always stocked with booze. Pop out the mailbox for when someone gives a damn enough to write to you. Pop out the white, privacy fence to remind them that you don’t give a damn about them.

4

My dad worked every day. He would leave the house at 5 and return at 6. Sometimes even later. He worked hard for the cars in our driveway, for the food on our table, for the roof over our heads, for the nice clothes that we wore to school every day. He would sit at the head of the table and say grace. Someone who looked into the house might think it was perfect, but in the end, we still had curtains in our windows. Despite all this, no one was content with what they had. We wanted more, surrounded by neighbors with nicer cars, bigger houses, and country club memberships. I can stay for your senior year, he said, or I can take the job. Is the American Dream about the family inside the house or the size of the house? He took the job on my orders. Now we have nicer cars, a bigger house, and a country club membership. But my father isn’t content, and neither is the rest of the family. There is still more American dreaming to do.

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