Not humble like people in the States mean it (working class poor, crappy urban ghettos, farm isolationism, border towns, single parent resource-deprived), but Polish post-war humble.
We did not own land, us humble-origins Poles (that would be 99% of the men and women I knew and read about). We sometimes had chickens and other food-producing animals, but land? Forget it. Poland was the only Communist country that did not turn practically all private property into collectives after the war, but still, people, especially urban types, for the most part, did not own land. At least not anyone I hung with.
So then I came to America. Wow. Everyone who is not totally destitute (admittedly, there are a lot of those) seemed to own property. Moreover, the further you moved from the city, the more property appeared to define you in every way imaginable. You own land in a neighborhood – the neighborhood set the tone and style for you. It become your world, your life.
I came to first own land in America in 1984 (ergo: I was 31). It was in this partnership thing called a mortgage plus spouse, but still, I owned land. I would walk out in the morning, look at the soil and almost want to do the Gone with the Wind thing of running the dirt through my fingers.
This land is my land, this land is my land…
I felt American.
Today, tonight, is my last moment of land ownership. I spent the better part of nonteaching hours cleaning my house and getting it ready for its new owners, who take possession of my little piece of suburbia tomorrow.
I will return to my peasant stock. I will let go of the land. I will be one of the people. I will disposes myself of holding onto property as if it defined me.
Tonight, though, I am still the fat bastard who orders her peons to jump through hoops. I am a landowner. For twelve more hours I am a landowner. And then? You heard it here: never again.
* & ** = "little" & "very little," used in a folksy way here