There I was sorting cans. Green beans, corn, lima beans. Who the hell even eats lima beans other than those adorning false teeth? Well, doesn’t really matter I guess. To each his own as the terrible cliché goes. Our budget for the Christmas drive this year has been surprisingly nice. Not that I assumed people did not donate because of greed but more so because jobs have been short here in this small Alaskan town. An Alaskan town all about the moose meat and halibut. After escaping a horrible relationship, I have found my volunteer position at the local food bank one of the most rewarding. I get to experience the most devastating of human conditions yet the one so often neglected in exposure, suffering. The out of sight out of mind. I don’t love the struggle of the individuals at all but I do get to be a part of something many refuse to even acknowledge happens. I get to be a part of something greater, helping another out of the struggle.
Onto the turkeys to be sorted according to size of families. The only drawback to volunteering here is the amount of food I have to handle. Ok, not so much the amount but what it is I have to handle. The meat here, is meat. Not the nice disguised from what it is chicken strip but actual dead chicken legs. It’s the government stuff. They don’t separate the parts so on many days my hours are spent breaking up body parts to fit into meals for people.
This Christmas will be the first for me being absolutely alone. No friends and no family. I am actually ok with that. It seems to be everyone else that gives me that, “I am so sorry” head tilt when I tell them I just want to be alone for the holiday. With the day slowly approaching though, I fear what I know many of the other volunteers want to ask. God, I really don’t want to have to tell people, anyone. I have brought up my little secret before and have lost friends and have disgusted strangers who asked. I am no longer sure if honesty is really better for me. Honesty has proven my enemy as of late.
Alice walks in from the other room. I sense it has slowed down for a bit and she has come back to help. I like Alice, I love Alice. She is a mother to me and in many ways reminds me of my own mom I lost a few years back. She’s my mom’s age. Which some days just reminds me what my mom could have been if she had not died so young. I really enjoy her sense of humor. One moment you think she is this family values Catholic and then on the other hand she is mentioning how stoned she wants to get. Even asking me a couple times if I know where to get some and if I would smoke it with her. I always politely decline.
All is going well. We are busting these cans and turkeys out into the Christmas baskets. We’re having fun and singing along to “Creedence Clearwater Revival” playing on the vintage radio from the other room. Then she asks. My hands start sweating; my heart begins to race. My mind in debate with honesty or would it just be easier to lie. She is like a mom to me and she is pretty cool even in all her religion. Ok, I’ll do it, I’ll just tell her. I guess its always just the right thing to know if the other person really is a friend or not. By being honest ultimately then we will know even if it hurts.
“Alice I really appreciate the invite, but I don’t think I would fit in there. Alice, I’m vegan.”
In the state of halibut and moose meat, I have committed the ultimate sacrilege.