I think at some unspoken (yet lived) level my brother and I always knew that our family was not in any way wealthy. That we were by all societal measures, ‘middle class’ at best. It didn’t bother us - after all we lived surrounded by people just like us; we all wore hand me downs, we all had hot meals and we all played happily with used toys and secondhand books. And yet we went to good schools and our parents were pretty involved in our everyday lives.
I think we, my brother and I, saw the same things but reacted to them in entirely different ways. We wanted different things from life. We persued relationships with our families and friends entirely independent from each other. We definitely valued things and experiences differently from each other. Neither wrong, neither right, both still true.
However this knowledge of what I grew up with only morphed into a conscious actual value (or maybe you could call it a lesson) as a young adult - I think I was around 22. It was the realisation that our family may not have been wealthy but that our privilege was measured on a entirely different scale. It included a wealth of books and music and the knowledge that our parents always had our backs. It was that conversations, caring and kindness counted for more than coins. It was that an education was more than the marks we got. It was that money could buy you stuff but that it was our attitude to stuff and many other intangibles that brought you happiness. It was that any and all travel - whether to the local park or stuffed into an old maroon Contessa (affectionately called ‘Boat’) to see the Taj Mahal - was an experience to be feasted on. It was that all these relationships - in our nuclear family and our wider family - were treasured and that we were loved beyond measure. Without a doubt we had an upbringing of privilege.
I think my brother and I took different lessons from our upbringing. It may just be the age old genetic difference of gender. It might be the age difference and what older siblings shield younger siblings from or what independent paths siblings forge depending on their generations. Our upbringings are reflected in the way we greet the world, how we chose partners, what we study, how we treat our friends and families, how we bring up our own children, what we tolerate and what we idealise. And although we have taken different paths and may not always agree with with what the other might be doing we hold those words and thoughts at bay - the privilege of our sibling-ness wins above all.
Life is a lottery and without ever being told this I knew that somehow I had won it.