The Journey

Rachel Cann

© Copyright 2021 by Rachel Cann

Photo of a blessing box for the homeless.

Yesterday I went with my boss of the food to the needy nonprofit to go horseback riding. It was way out of town, and she insisted on driving her rental van because my car doesnít have heat, and she says I drive too slow. Vicky was recently written up in the news for a food program in Roslindale that didnít meet standards of cleanliness that the city forefathers thought necessary. It mentioned she had been doing this food thingy for 30 years and was homeless. Poor people give a small donation for the food, and I donít think they care about germs as much as the city forefathers. All through the pandemic, Vicky has been delivering produce and groceries from bona fide supermarkets like Whole Foods and Trader Joeís to outdoor sort of food pantries. Every day to a different locale. And since she has a bonafide 501c3, the stores get a tax break.

I help out twice a week, pay for my own gas and tunnel fares when I have to go to East Boston from the West End, where I live, to a Catholic Church that had its market outdoors in the summer. Now that itís winter, thereís no chance of fruit or meat getting spoiled. Iím getting pretty good at asking for help from strangers walking by. Lifting crates of apples or potatoes is a bit much for an old fogie like me. Vicky lifts everything thatís heavy without asking for help. The amount of lifting she does all day should make her thinner than she is, but we both have a sweet tooth. I quit smoking after 40 years. Vicky used to do drugs. Thatís when I met her some 40 years ago when I had a nonprofit, a 501c3 called Rachelís Promise. In a town with four different abortion clinics, I was taking pregnant teenagers into my apartment until Vicky came looking for me one day and accidentally told my landlord. I was evicted. In a way, I have hated Vicky ever since for opening her big mouth.

But yesterday, I was so happy she agreed to join me for the horseback riding. She has a GPS, and to sweeten the pie, before we left, she loaded my car with so many flowers and plants I would be a fool to begrudge her for anything. Vicky has a bad habit of screaming at people! Some kind of thyroid disorder, maybe. Or a stroke she had some years ago. Iím hoping the new hearing aid will benefit those of us who donít like her volatility. Iím having a bit of that intemperance too, lately. Nothing like this Covid quarantine to make a hellion out of an angel!

When we reached Bobís Ranch, the first thing Vicky did was feed strawberries to some ponies adjacent to our ultimate destination. Very nice. I took pictures. The ground was totally mud, and I wasnít wearing boots. The horses looked huge! The stable girl explained that the ice might cause a fall, so if we were afraid, we should cancel. We signed waivers so that should an accident occur, the stable owners were not liable. A goat tried to gobble up my red velvet leggings! There were 8 of us in the group, and I was the oldest. Havenít been on a horse in over 50 years. Was I afraid? Of course. But if I didnít go, Vicky would never let me hear the end of it. And all those flowersÖ. But I was the last one to load and try as I could my right leg wouldnít lift high enough to hop onto the horseís saddle. Keep in mind that I fell while walking home from my swimming pool club breaking my shoulder. The ER doctor offered me an aspirin for the pain after the X-ray. I couldnít believe it. One week of pain pills only. My doctor later told me everyone in pain had been going to heroin!

The reason my shoulder broke from a simple fall was that my bones were weakened from chemotherapy. I got so sick from taking nonprescriptions like Advil, I use a walker now to get to my pool. And Vicky doesnít know what it was like lying on a heating pad for 5 months in pain. First thing she did when she got back from the trip was call me a quitter. Nobody has ever called me that in my life. I love Vicky sometimes, but I think I made the right decision not to risk a fall. And just today I loaded up a bunch of sunflowers and peonies for my dermatologist. Heíll be 83 in a week. The secretary wanted to know my name and I told her he would know who the flowers were from. Just 2 weeks ago he wanted to inject my chin with a needle and I was screaming ďno no, not unless you take me dancing on your birthday.Ē My dermatologist is gay, but the first guy Iíve been attracted to in some 4o years. As one of his other assistants told me months ago. ďYou canít have enough friends!Ē

My bio?  The Vermont Studio Center granted me a full fellowship when there were 200 other applicants.

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