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Change - Sunday, Apr. 17, 2022
Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2022 @ 9:53 am
The cherry blossoms (the plum blossoms). The evenings warm and mild, my coat open at the throat, letting all of that bruised petal scented air in against my skin. The evening robin song resonates among the apartment buildings. Daffodil heads heavy. The croaks from the heron rookery.
I cycle over to the downtown eastside, park my bike, and walk through the filth to the volunteer entrance of the mission. Two years have passed since I was last allowed to be here, to help out.
The neighbourhood is shocking compared with my everyday nirvana. I slow down my pace, stepping around piles of waste (human? dog?), vomit, needles, trash. I nervously make eye contact and smile with people and then immediately feel grotesquely rich and clean and white and stare at the ground in shame for the last block.
The kitchen staff are the same from two years ago. They put me to work peeling onions, dicing zucchini, cubing daikon. The chef pulls out a bin of his kimchi, offers a sample.
“What else to do with 60 lbs of donated daikon?” he muses. The kimchi burns my tongue with ginger and chili, and I relish the flavours and am glad for living in a country that welcomes - to a certain extent - refugees and immigrants.
At the end of my shift, I walk outside and past the lineup of people waiting for their meal, which I just helped pack into two hundred and seventy individual take-away boxes. Two hundred and seventy scoops of vegetables, that’s part of what I did tonight. It’s fuck all, I know, and I feel helpless and stupid and humble and angry.
The lineup of people is ragged. I feel my insides crumpling. There are so many people waiting for supper, lined up way down along that filthy alley.
I cycle home to my neighbourhood, the one with the cherry blossoms and robins.
I didn’t make any difference to those people tonight, but tonight those people made a difference to me. I was smacked in the face with my privilege, and that is why I continue to go there.