The differences between a Virginia educator and his brother, a partner at a Manhattan law firm, are partly a matter of paychecks.

Emmet Rosenfeld, dean of students at the Congressional Schools of Virginia, recently cracked $100,000 a year, when his wife’s pay is counted, he writes in the Washington Post. His brother, Jim, and Jim’s wife are in the top 1 percent of wage earners—those people who make more than $350,000 a year.

In the article, Rosenfeld remembers a weekend trip he took to see his brother about a year ago. Jim told how he wrote $65,000 in checks one evening for loans on his old home and his new brownstone and for his quarterly taxes.

“Right then it struck me just how far apart, financially, we really were,” Rosenfeld writes. “My brother’s monthly nut was almost the same as my entire year’s pay.”

Rosenfeld goes on to wonder: “Is a mid-six-figure salary truly the velvet rope between us and a thinner, tanner version of ourselves? More to the point, would I be happier with my brother’s life?”

Despite the salary differences, Rosenfeld drove a used Audi and he and his family lived in “a handsome, two-story farmhouse on a double lot.” Jim drove a new Subaru and his rehabbed brownstone was a breathtaking showplace, but it didn’t come with a backyard.

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