I live in the same county where I grew up. Delaware County, just south east of Philadelphia. Like any other part of the country (yes including the so-called mythical Main Line) there are areas that are nicer than others - places you would love to live, places you wouldn't want to be alone at night and, yes, areas where I wouldn't take a house for free - yes, just like on the Main Line.
I am proud of where I grew up. Upper Darby High School has always had a bad reputation for tough kids and drugs - I was there for four years and never saw any of either. I was too busy working my butt off in classes that were part of a top notch honors program. Three of my teachers in high school had Doctorates. But people in Radnor and Lower Merion seemed to love to look down on us as "Upper Dump." I never understood it but I do now probably more than ever. People like to pretend. They pretend they are more important than they are and pretend they have more than they do. Everyone is trying to be something they're not. The saddest part is what they are trying to be ain't all that great.
I recently had someone take a jab at where I live and it hurt. They do not think highly of the community in which my family resides. Not high-brow enough. Not affluent enough. Too "working class" perhaps. They apparently view it as low class - or perhaps it's just that they have a very high opinion of where their family lives. But I am OK with that I suppose. They can have it - I'll stay where I am. People can think what they want and view things how they see fit. As my grandmother would say "that's why they make chocolate and vanilla."
If you remember around Christmas time, in the wake of Sandy Hook, people were doing "26 Random Acts of Kindness." I knew I wasn't going to be able to swing 26 so I decided to do just one. I delivered a Christmas cactus and some chocolates to the doorstep of the house where I grew up in Upper Darby. My parents moved away many years ago. The neighborhood is much different now. The houses aren't maintained the way they used to be and the lawns are no longer manicured. The community of two and three bedroom row homes was never a rich neighborhood by any measure - I just never remember "poor" being a word you would use to describe it. I certainly never felt poor. Poor might be a word I would use to describe it now. As I placed the gift on the doorstep and walked away - I felt sadness - not shame - but real sadness. Many people have it hard - harder than I can possibly imagine. I also felt a sense of relief that my parents had been able to move away to a bigger house with a garden for mom and a shed for dad.
I also felt a sense of pride to know that no matter what happens I will never allow myself to get so far away from there that I fool myself into thinking I am something I am not. I guess all I can hope for is to surround myself with like-minded people that understand: it's not about what you have, it's about who you are.