There were additions to the shopping list that needed to be made when I married my husband. His requests were simple: please always have tortillas, pinto beans, cheese and limes in the kitchen. With these ingredients, hunger could be relieved. Let’s make quesadillas, bean and cheese burritos, and with cheap meat, tacos drizzled with lime juice.
Over the past decade, there have always been fluctuations in the price of Key Limes at our local grocery store. You can grab them from bags, or you can stand side by side with an abuelita and watch her grab some, throw others, and do your best to imitate her when you throw your lemon picks into a bag in plastic.
Sometimes it was 16 limes for a dollar. Sometimes it was 20 for a dollar. Sometimes you only picked 10, because who would use them all before they went bad? Then your kids developed a taste for lime and you were back to full load for a buck. It was not a question; you just bought the limes.
Once a teenage girl came bounding up to me as I passed her with my bag of hand-picked limes to ask her how much they cost per lime. I told him that I didn’t remember. I came home and shared it with my husband. “It’s a staple; you just get the limes,” my husband said. It was a brief measure of our privilege.
For the first time, it was seven limes for a dollar. I pointed it out while we were shopping and our eyes met over our kids’ heads.
We had seen the price of meat rise steadily; bacon is also a morning staple for us. Even the cheap cuts have gone up. Cuts like the tongue, where I hunted my gringo friends to try just one as a novelty, friends who usually realized with this taco that they could overcome handling a recognizable part of the cow if it was tasty enough. Just two or three years ago, the language was something you could get for $15-$18. Now it’s closer to 30.
Before shopping, we had driven through town, marveling at the low level of inventory at car dealerships. My husband speculated that prices might stay high for cars. “At least we don’t need it,” he said, and I shouted. “You bring this back right now, or the car will hear you,” I said.
There are different reports on the economy, but as a millennial, I’m haunted by the turns it takes to stay afloat. Much like an infamous iceberg, there are things lurking in the currents that can be entirely beyond your control and threaten to sink you. A car accident for which you are not responsible. A diagnosis of cancer. Unexpected complications during childbirth.
The bill for my daughter’s birth was more than the cost of our house.
Increasingly, it feels like fundamental participation in the American economy is a cudgel to keep us tied to systems, ideologies, and ways of life that are out of step with how humans thrive. . It’s no surprise that being in charge ends with more millennials having no children by plan, but perhaps more by accident. Nor is it surprising that the things that were essential to living in America are out of reach, even for those who may have only basic privileges and just a dream for many who can’t. – not even be.
Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and die-hard Oxford Comma fan. She can be contacted at [email protected].