Val Vanorden, Portage, Mich.
Middle class to me means having choices. You have options. Yes you work for it, and yes, sometimes you're threadbare in areas of your life, but you choose where and when to have luxuries that are not even thought of in other countries on this planet. I worked a year in Haiti, and that was a choice. I choose now to work in flea markets and I enjoy it, though it is eminently slower paced than the medical field I used to be in. I choose when and where to shop. I have a car, that is middle class. I can take public transportation if I want to. I choose to be married. I choose a tree-lined neighborhood. I do not quite have a degree, but I am educated, and I represent those who have paid into the system all their lives since age 16 until age 53, and are now reaping the rewards.