A friend of a friend of ours knows someone who’s building a 40000 square foot house. This is not a Bill Gates or an Oprah, not even a country music star. It’s someone who lives in Tennessee. I didn’t type an extra zero. 40000. The Las Vegas Hilton Superbook, a sports betting paradise within the Las Vegas Hilton, boasts of its more than 30000 square feet. The 40000 square foot house is being built for a typical family of 4. (That’s not a picture of the house, it’s just to give you an idea of what we’re talking about here.)
No one would call my house extravagant, (especially if they could see the living room right now – it is obvious that we don’t have a housekeeper) but it is plenty. I can walk just down the street and see houses that are boarded up, houses that change renters several times a year. My nine year old even knows there’s a disparity and has admitted that he doesn’t like being there. It makes him uncomfortable, and he acknowledges it, though many of us just ignore it. I wonder if my house seems like a 40000 square foot house to any of them.
A few years back, I traveled to the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas and spent a night in the global village. They have an area set up that represents living conditions in various regions, based on the average for that area. Everyone wanted Guatemala. It had a roof and running water.
My daughter, M. , just 11 at the time, got assigned to the urban village: basically wood floors with tin roofs, no windows, just an open hole for a door. I got Thailand, which wasn’t much better, but for July in Arkansas was catching a decent breeze. M. slept in Thailand. The urban village was too much for her. The Guatemalan home, as humble as it would seem if put next door to my house, was a mansion for that day.