MY BLESSED DAY AT THE DAILY BREAD FOOD BANK
I arrived twenty-two minutes early, parked Blue, and sat listening to my daily Spotify-curated eclectic mix – Classic Rock Anthems courtesy of Seger, Springsteen and the Rolling Stones … drizzled with bubble-gummy ABBA, Boney M and yeah, the Brothers Gibb stuttering Ja-Ja-Ja-Jive Talkin’. The Gap Band got the funk all the way down with Party Train ending the set. I needed something to lift the malaise draping over me. Music, for once, didn’t get it done.
I tapped Kuched on my iPhone. To see where I was at. I’ve been stammering on Step 3 of the Dozen Futility Movements in a program self-scripted to wean off checking WordPress every 9 minutes. Perhaps, I just need to reset my notifications to stop bothering me. I’ll get over myself one day.
All was safe and predictably Monday-ish in the Blogosphere. All Caught Up On Catching Up. I may have intentionally Like-bombed stuff I skipped reading. If you’re reading this, it wasn’t your post.
“Does My Over-Sharing Version of The Truth Read as Mean? It’s impossible to tell from my vantage point atop the Soap Box. Really, I wouldn’t want to risk spraining an ankle jumping off.”
Too many minutes of quiet solitary company in confined spaces – my car – is usually enough to get me on my nerves (not really), before I moseyed my reluctant carcass across the parking lot I gave thought to why I was here … volunteering at a food bank on a vacation day.
BROUGHT ME BACK … DECADES AGO
Then, it would’ve been my mother coming to a similiar place for a different reason.
Schlepping a caboodle of us. Four little kittens in 6 years. And, two older teenaged cats. Yep, astute Family Planning Baby Boomer style. Or, just herself. Public transit across town. There was no wanting back then. In the Day. Need was the only reason we ever did anything.
The Good Times? The surprise Christmas Food Hampers. I’ll say it was the Salvation Army because that’s the organization I remember most, or possibly, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. The Kiwanis Club. St. Helen’s Catholic Parish. And, CHUM radio station.
Collectively, these organizations amongst others, with their Food, Winter Clothes and Toy Drives made something of a Christmas possible for families without much. The Holiday Season bearable. And, I suspect now, a suicide or two was averted.
MY FONDEST MEMORY
Is of a favorite toy I’d received.
I’ve written about it – him – in one of my earliest posts. My beloved French-speaking G.I. Joe – Jacques – RIP, Mon ami. I’d trade any ten of my vintage Hot Wheels cars if I still had them, just for another afternoon with him.
Mostly, I recall the Shame of Childhood Poverty. It never leaves me. Fucking hated it. I can’t make this point any more poetic or less guttural. I can’t edit the profanity, or drop whimsy wordplay, to lighten my memory.
Papa Lothario … jussaying … Fatherhood was free, but you could’ve paid a little something if not attention.
“How’d you miss out on being a man?”
I’m sure Father Whathisfaccia? had dropped a few hints during Confession. No? Or did the Sunday Busta absolve all your sins – sans penance – by bribing The Holy Father to look away?
BEING 7 YEARS-OLD
Dragging my skinny ass down three flights of stairs from a shitty, hole-in-the-wall inner city flat, with a small note folded in my hand.
That old burnt chestnut … castagne roasting. Better now. Fabulous, really.
“Afraid I’d lose the paper before I got there. Afraid of the humiliation when I got there. Afraid my mother had lost her will to ever get there.”
Shame, it seems, doesn’t skip a generation, let alone a heartbeat.
I’D ALWAYS READ THE NOTE
Same thing. Pretty much.
In my mother’s neat cursive handwriting. Asking the neighborhood grocer, a kind Italian man – a family-run shop with a fine butcher and deli counter, and tight aisles crammed with dry and canned food – for $10 in credit. 1970 dollars.
Mom would list the items. Food staples. I knew later this was a rudimentary Promissory Note. I don’t know how much of the weekly debt she’d pay back. If anything, something, I’m sure, though don’t know how she’d manage that.
For the longest time, I thought my very conception was the payback … and me, decidedly not immaculate, but a sordid by-product … of a consolidated debt. Though, that’s just the ugly nasty bastard in me coming out. Let’s stick with … she found another way.
THE FRIGID WINTER MORNINGS
In the predawn dark, trekking in the other direction to the local diner.
Different handwritten note. Sometimes with a small change purse to hold loose coins. Coming back home up the flight of stairs with a brown paper bag with chocolate-glazed donuts. Breakfast for the Bastards. Just the five of us. One bedroom. It wasn’t something I was complaining about.
These are my reflections now and as I left my car two days ago. My apprehension about going into a food bank to help. Though I don’t know why I had this fear. A recollection of shame. And, insatiable curiosity beyond fate.
I needed to face what I knew was ahead. A vicarious visit to Christmas Pasts. Probably why A Christmas Carol always scared the Dickens out of me …