What You Can Truly Be

The LongItalianLastName family drama continues to unfold off-stage. I don’t feel like talking about myself, so let’s talk about the unnamed university’s hunger-fighting project. KAPOW! My department participates every year, which means we get a family, some few details and go on our way. For example:

Adult #1

Age: 29

Gender: Female
Ethnicity: Hispanic
Most Needed Items:
Pants (Women’s Large), maternity clothing
Other Desired Items:
Perfume
Other Information (Interests, hobbies, favorite book author, favorite color, etc.):
Mother is expecting fourth child in December

You can’t really picture her from this – except that you can. You see her struggling on the sidewalk and laughing on the corner. She has dark hair and dreams in color. She is very tired. Maybe someone helps her with groceries but maybe not. You know that neighborhood flooded out in the superstorm a year ago today. You can imagine the mold.

You have a month to imagine who she is and what she needs. You can buy her gifts, but she may not have a secure place to keep them. You can buy her groceries, especially groceries she may not be able to easily transport home from a store. Does she have a car?

Are grocery store gift cards appropriate for your family? If so, please specify the stores where you shop (check all that apply):
Stop & Shop
Fresh Grocer
Wal-Mart

There’s only one Fresh Grocer. It’s in town, probably about half a mile from her apartment. The local Stop & Shops and Walmarts are out of town, some up and down Route 27, some up and down Route 1. She could take buses to those. Maybe they’re near where she works. Any way around it, she probably can’t buy in bulk to feed her children because she can’t transport it, but if she could, can she store bulk items? Can she cook? It is not an absolute lock that she has a stove and an oven, but you’re willing to take some risks.

She only asks for perfume and loose clothing for herself; everything else is for her children. You think about that, don’t you? Who is she? How did she get here? Your co-workers imagine her, trade coupons and sales circulars and pick out things for her. Boxes begin to fill in sensible ways. She and her children will have food, gifts for Christmas and clothes to keep warm all winter. What you do matters.

What will you do?

Have Anything You Want But

Wednesday, my cousin Nancy told a story that, like all her stories, should be an episode in her own HBO series.

Tata: Are you seeing a therapist?

Nancy: I just started seeing a new one I really like, but she lives in this town where one of those dead teenager movies would take place. Have you ever heard of Roosevelt?

Tata: No. Where is it?

Nancy: That’s the thing: it’s right off 130 and no one knows where it is. It’s creepy and like time stopped. I drove out to her house and there was a flock of crows sitting on the roof. So I’m sitting in my car, looking up the spirit animal significance of crows.

Tata: What? No, don’t do that! You like her?

Nancy: I was seeing this awful man. I went to him because he had a therapy dog. All of my doctors are women so I thought I’d give this guy – I don’t know. But then I didn’t like the dog. I thought he looked dirty and he didn’t like me either. But I love dogs. The doctor had all these issues and I couldn’t talk about certain things with him.

Tata: You couldn’t talk with your therapist?

Nancy: He kept telling me I would benefit from going to Landmark Forum.

Tata: Get out!

Pete: What’s that?

Nancy: EST.

Pete: What’s EST?

Tata: It’s a cult.

Nancy: You remember my friend Meredith I just went on vacation with? She’s a therapist and she said that is soooo unethical. He should not be doing that.

Tata: So now you’re seeing a bad man with a dirty dog. It’s like going to the train station.

Nancy: I didn’t like the guy. I don’t like men doctors and his dog was – I don’t know. I pictured myself lying on the couch, stroking the dog and talking about my issues, but this was nothing like that. I don’t even think he was a therapy dog. Do you know what I mean? We sort of avoided each other. And of course I couldn’t talk to the therapist. He was kind of a round guy with a Santa beard and he wanted me to join a cult. I didn’t like him at all.

Tata: What – ? So why were you going there?

Nancy: I kind of got used to Rusty the dog. I didn’t really like him, but I got used to him. Week after week, I sort of thought I was making progress and then I went on vacation and when I got back there was a framed picture of Rusty on the desk and the therapist didn’t want to talk about it.

Tata [trying desperately to breathe]

Nancy: So I never went back.