Patagonia Jackets and Class Consciousness

This way to the secret garden...Is it bad that I felt breathlessly uncomfortable as I climbed the stairs and watched the rest of Santiago slowly kneeling behind me?  That I suddenly was six years old, watching The Secret Garden Climbing the edge of Santiagoand realizing again how it felt to be an impostor for the first time?  I feared judgment, that the people who lived behind these vine-drenched walls would see right through my red-haired, blue-eyed, privileged disguise.  I’ve no money, and I come from less.  But no, I assured myself, breathing deep and climbing another stair, these things are so well-hidden by Chilean assumptions about Americans, by my credentials, by the advantage of being young and pretty—I’ve never knocked on someone’s door before in Chile!—The door opens, and I smile.  Oh, I hope she doesn’t find me out.

Where's the badger hole?There are many other adults in the house—who are they?  Tan skin and checkered aprons, don’t treat me like I’m different from you.  I don’t want to feel more; I don’t want to feel less.

The house is warm, and with my nerves, my cheeks flush warmer.  Red is the color of an apple, and these frogs are green and speckled.

I had forgotten her name as soon as she’d said it—at exactly that moment, I’d been fighting to hear anything over the ruckus of my own clamoring class consciousness—but she offered me a ride to the bus stop.

The house is warm; my cheeks are red: I won’t put on my jacket.

To the door; and she puts on hers.  I see the familiar patch of cloth: Patagonia.  I remember a laugh, a “Patagonia, from Chile, right?  You won’t see that here.”

Yet there it was.  A way for me to buy in, a chance to feel a moment of peace, of legitimacy.  Is it bad that as I put on my jacket and follow her out the door, I don’t know if I’m hiding or revealing myself?The neighborhood playground


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