Good People

Tonight, I hung out with my parents because they had invited me to see a play with them. Plays have never been my thing – used to be really into musicals when I was in high school but plays, not really.

Having this opinion, I had zero expectations for the play. I vaguely had an idea of what it was about – my mom read me the plot but I half-listened., I hadn’t seen a play since I went to a performing arts camp back in the day, and I was skeptical of community theater.

Well I was completely blown away at the quality and story of the play. Entitled Good People, the play was set in Southie and Chestnut Hill (represent!). It follows a woman, Margaret, living in Southie with her disabled daughter, trying to get a new job. In this process, she ends up reconnecting with a childhood friend, Mike, who has left Southie and went on to become a doctor downtown. This reconnection ends up revealing their history and the story becomes raw with emotion and struggle.

(I just tried to paraphrase this two-hour play but it was so intense and rich with relationships that I decided not to even try and save you the struggle of reading it)

This play has so many themes that really hit home for me but the main one was the struggle that Margaret goes through growing up in Southie with a child. In the main scene of the second act, Margaret is over at Matt’s house talking with him and his wife. She keeps calling Mike “lace curtain” which is an insult referring to someone who “abandon[ed] their working class/blue collar roots to pursue more upper class/white collar career[s]”. Thanks Urban Dictionary – haven’t used that site since high school when I discovered it existed. Mike gets upset and starts accusing Margaret of just not making the right choices and that she could have had the life he has if she just made better decisions. Margaret fights back talking about how the struggles she has had have not always been her choice.

Margaret’s struggle is real and it was very powerful to hear her story. I can never imagine what it is like growing up in her socio-economic class. I can never imagine making the decisions she has had to make. But I am lucky in that I only imagine it. I am lucky to have been raised in a good home with supportive parents to help me. I am lucky to have had activities and opportunities that I would not have had if I had grown up differently. I am lucky. Lots of people are lucky and lots of people are not lucky.

In the words of Bruce Springsteen:

Down here it’s just winners and losers

And don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line

(from the song Atlantic City)

My overall takeaway: To take a minute and be grateful for what I have. To realize that while I work hard and am happy where I am, plenty of people work harder than I do for less than what I have. I am lucky and thankful. Thank you.

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