So I never got back to this yesterday. The interwebs on the subway doesn’t work very well and I ended up reading a book.
The talks part- I had a few talks in the past days that all seemed very interconnected. It started Friday at work. We were discussing the planned cuts to meals on wheels and the school lunch program. This sprang off to another conversation about growing up Irish in NYC. That lead to another about the “cheese truck”. I don’t know if this was just a thing here, but as a child I can remember waiting on the line for food. A big white tractor trailer would pull up and you’d get no frills foods. Things like the big block of cheese and jar of peanut butter. It was not good for you food, but it kept your belly full. The guy in front of me remembered that too. It wasn’t that our parents didn’t work, they did, but they were the working poor. Something this city is full of.
We agreed that without that and school lunch we don’t know how we would have made it to adulthood.
This then ties in with a conversation with female L. She is the only daughter of a young working mother and we talked of our times on fod stamps and them our times as cashiers at a local supermarket. How there was 2 types of people on public assistance. One that really needed it and then the other just working the system. Both of us would get rather upset at the second type, having already been the first. Her last day at that job she ran into the second type and called her a cunt.
The final conversation was with my mother. We were discussing my aunt and cousin. My cousin leaves for boot camp today, on my birthday. My aunt is not dealing with this weel and has taken to lashing out on all of us. On purpose I didn’t reach out to her on St. Paddy’s day. They always do a big dinner and I wanted to see if I was invited. My mother invited herself and it never occurred to her I wasn’t already on the guest list. I allowed the day to pass saying nothing about it until she brought up the fight she had with my aunt that night that flowed into the following day. She felt like shit and I explained to her it was not her fault. It was my aunts.
I also told her I needed to distance myself from them because I will get hurt for things I have no control of and I suggested she do the same.
I made an off the cuff comment about how good her christmas gift would be since that would make my holiday list extremely small. She said remember when we used to buy for 35 and then it dropped to five, now for her it would be one.
She said not to worry, we’ve been here before, I just don’t remember it. I knew there was a time when she first returned with me to NYC after leaving my father. She was stuck in Florida and things were going really bad. She worked at McDonalds long enough to get one check, 2 bus tickets and packed what she could carry and headed back home. When she got here, my grandfather told her you made your bed, now lay in it. He refused to take her back. She went to her uncle and aunt, they got her emergency housing the following week and set her up with the very bare essentials. This corresponded with thanksgiving, maybe 1979 or 80.
There was no big meal, just a very small chicken. Now at the age of three I was a total motor mouth. A mini person and she told me how upset she was that we had no big family dinner and just a small bird and a boiled potato each. She was on the verge of tears until I sat down and took the first bite. She said I went on and on about how good this”turkey” was, how I never liked turkey before but this was really amazing and look how little and cute it was!. She said I turned her tears to joy and it’s a holiday she would always remember. To her as long as we have the two of us that’s all she needs.
Funny that I really never knew we were poor.
So for my birthday,I’ll spend it with her. I’ll say goodbye to my cousin, fight with my aunt, remember my stepfather and hopefully we can both turn tears into joy