One Morning....

This morning, I woke up to the smell of french toast and coffee....M cooked breakfast before leaving to work at the farm, and for some reason Marko was not up at his usual 5:30am. M took the car, so we had to be especially watchful of the clock, so as not to miss the bus. There is no school bus for preK, so I have to drop Laurel off at exactly 9:05 each morning, at her classroom door. This involves a lot of logistics....dressing two kids and myself and getting ourselves over there. If we drive, Marko almost always falls asleep in the car, and then I have to wake him up and put him in a carrier. Today we took the city bus...the money bus, Laurel calls it. It was almost easier than driving...no car seats to fuss with, lots to look at on the way there. The bus picks up at our corner and drops off about 3 blocks from the school, which was just the right amount of walking and exploring. Laurel found a buckeye, a tree stump and a slug leaving a trail of slime on a blackened stone wall. I thought about my grandmother and great-aunts, exploring these same streets when they were children. I wondered if that stone wall was there.

I would have considered it a total win except I missed the 71C going back...the worst kind of missing a bus when it passes just as you are about to cross the intersection. At least the weather was good and Marko was dozing in the Ergo.

You have to love parenting advice dolled out by old people at bus stops. "Babies these days," a gray haired lady leaning on a walker said, "They come out with attitudes and walking so early. Not like the old days when babies were just babies."

As the bus approached, the man carefully tapped out the ember on his cigarette and slid it back into the box. Pall Malls. "My nephew, I about raised him," he told me. "You want to talk about a splitting image. His mother, oh the things I taught him...."

Not sure what to say to that, I just smiled and thanked them for letting me get on the bus first.

When we got home, I turned on the radio and danced with Marko, while he made little squeals, and grinned. I can see his new teeth when he smiles like that.

Life is good. And I might have just gone on with my good life this morning...but I read this story about a professor who recently died, in poverty.  Income inequality is real, and getting worse. I thought about the line between Here and There...Here being the place where I can afford good food and to turn on my heat in the winter to whatever temperature I want and bus fare when I need to get my daughter to school....and There...well, you all know where There is.

Two years ago we marched for OWS. It's funny, since then we've switched jobs a few times, watched our income bounce down to half of what it was, and landed in a place where we are suddenly both doing exactly what we love. Not getting rich, but there's food on the table. (Abundant food, since M works on the farm once a week and brings home extras.)

But believe me...I know that we are ok here because we were blessed to avoid hardship this year. Nobody got cancer. Our car wasn't stolen. The roof leak was patched and can hold off being replaced a little longer. We got a better health insurance just in time for Marko's birth, saving us a $10,000 hospital bill. What's luck and what's our own bootstraps and adaptability? I'm not sure how to separate it. I do know that I run across people all the time who seem just as smart as me, and are certainly as worthy - as all humans are - to be treated with respect and have their basic needs provided for...and yet, they aren't.

The story about Margaret Mary Vojtko hit me because I know so many people just like her. Her plight need not negate the abundance and joy I felt with my family this morning. But I should not forget it as my day goes on, and even better if I can take some action.

"A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth." Martin Luther King Jr., From the speech "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break the Silence" delivered on April 4th 1967.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course the story about the French adjunct professor has made the rounds among my friends, professors adjunct and otherwise. Was she still teaching at 83? Had she retired? Were there other circumstances? I wonder if Duquesne has made a statement. There must be many elderly people like her, living alone on an insufficient income. Could friends? family? neighbors? have helped?
Glad to hear about the bus ride. When you walk in the door on Graham Street, is Laurel's classroom the first one on the left, ground floor? That was our kindergarten.