I can't help wondering: / by Christina Rosalie

What would our country look like in a Depression now?

If we go into a depression, what will happen to artists--who base their incomes on the production of a commodity that doesn't fall into the category of "survival"? Would there still be literary magazines? Galleries? Etsy?

If we go into a depression, what will happen to private schools? Will parents still send their children—or will they opt out, out of necessity? And what will happen to public schools as a result? Will they become more overcrowded, further under-funded? Will the tax base stay the same?

If we go into a depression, will we be able walk the fine line between heart’s longing and daily need; between the unquenchable desire to create and the need for an income--the hard-scrabble talk of hungry bellies overriding the thirst for beauty, for words?

Suddenly I’m realizing that my understanding of the Great Depression is based on the vague memories of a high school reading of The Grapes of Wrath. I cannot picture life without the wanton consumerism that drives our culture.

On the radio, I hear newscasters warning that “the holiday season looks gloomy” not because people no longer love each other, or have lost their faith, but because consumers are spending less in stores. It gives me the shivers.

On one hand I think, damn right. We needed this. A shake down, a shift, a change. The bare bristling greed of Wall Street needed to be ripped open, the bandaid of oblivion and status quo ripped off abruptly, the blood loss inevitable. On one hand I think, would it really be so bad if people had to step back from the brink of unrequited want for material things? If they had to scale back, live closer to home, greener by necessity. If gardens, if local produce, if organic, if simple were a way of life necessitated by an unstable economic culture.

But on the other hand, my chest aches imagining. I’m having a baby. My son’s will grow up in this time, and whatever it holds. To be prudent, I’d keep my job, I’d focus on the paycheck, not the yearning. I’d let my view narrow so that my weekends burgeon and my week’s blur, so that need trumps the calling of my heart to write full time, to create. Because is it not unspeakably selfish in such a time for a mama to want this? To want to slip out of the workforce, into a world where word matter, where art matters, even as the world as I know it may be changing, ending, reshaping.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have always believed unwaveringly in the Grace that holds my life, and I have no reason to stop believing in it now.