There was a time back in the 90’s when I would look forward each week to visiting the Food Bank in Bellingham, Washington. Artisanal breads, whole salmon, whole turkies at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and plenty of exotic fruit and veg. It was food that I couldn’t have afforded back then – just a few days older than looked good on the shelves. Here’s a small remembrance from that time.
I went to bed with Hemingway’s words from The Sun Also Rises in my head, “It felt good to be warm and in a bed.” At least it was something even if it was in a van.
Dark rings had appeared under my eyes and various aches and pains filled my body from sleeping in the VW’s fold out bed. Still, I woke excited because it was Food Bank day.
I love the food bank. There was a sign posted where we lined up like Russian peasants waiting for bread. “Your place in line cannot be held by bags, bicycles, boxes, books, or rocks.”
The lack of alliteration hyper-italicized rocks and I laughed as I thought of a line composed of filthy little rocks stretching around the block and every time it moved forward all the peasants running out of the bushes to advance their rock then disappearing again.
Actually, about half the people in the line were Russian peasants transplanted to the ‘Ham. There I stood in a bread line while it snowed with the same Russians I’d seen in Moscow breadlines on television while the cold war raged. We weren’t in Moscow though. We were in Bellingham and the food we got that day was better than anything we would have gotten in Moscow. I was sure of it.
This was and is modern America. It was like the curtain had been pulled back and the wizard was reveled for the shabby little man behind the curtain. If this was happening here in the heart of Microsoft county than it was happening in every city in this country. And I was sure that it would only get worse.