The professors’ home was a telescope to how the other (more affluent) half lived.They were rarely ever home, so I saw their remnants: the lightly crinkled New York Times sprawled on the kitchen table, the overturned, half-opened books in their overflowing personal library, the TV consistently left on the National Geographic channel.She put an ad in the paper advertising house cleaning, and a couple, both professors, answered.
All the mirrors she’s cleaned could probably stack up to be a minor Philip Johnson skyscraper. The vacuums and the gloves might be, but the work isn’t. She spent countless hours kneeling in the dirt, growing her vegetables with the care that professors advise their protégés, with kindness and proactivity.
Today, the fruits of her labor have been replaced with the suction of her vacuum.
Each year, we issue an open casting call for high school seniors who have dared to address money, work or social class in their college application essays.
From the large pile that arrived this spring, these four — about parents, small business, landscapes and the meaning a single object can convey — stood out.
It was there, as a son of immigrants, that I read about a young senator named Barack Obama, the child of an immigrant, aspiring to be the president of the United States.
The life that I saw through their home showed me that an immigrant could succeed in America, too.
The squeal of her vacuum reminds me why I have the opportunity to drive my squealing car to school.
I am where I am today because my mom put an enormous amount of labor into the formula of the American Dream.
At 14, I remember vacuuming each foot of carpet in the massive house and folding pastel shirts fresh out of the dryer. I loved the way the windows soaked the house with light, a sort of bleach against any gloom. My mother and father had come as refugees almost twenty years ago from the country of Moldova.
I loved how I could always find a book or magazine on any flat surface. My mother worked numerous odd jobs, but once I was born she decided she needed to do something different.