The Gold Was Everywhere

The Gold Was Everywhere May 19, 2022

I’ve been giving people rides this week.

It’s something I love doing. For fourteen years or so, we were stuck in Steubenville without a vehicle. I never learned to drive as a teenager and Michael’s family couldn’t afford a car or driving lessons in the first place. We walked a mile to the supermarket and back, or rode the bus when we could catch it. I remember how horribly frustrating it was to never be able to go anywhere when we wanted, to spend a whole day working to get one shopping trip done. I remember the agony of feeling that we would never, ever, ever get out of Steubenville or have any fun again. And now we have a car. And gradually, the neighbors found out that there was a woman who liked to go for drives in LaBelle, and now they ask me for help.

I’ve already told you about the adventures I’ve been having with my friend whose car broke down. We’re making progress on finding her a better car and getting her out from under the rental furniture as well. I’ll be letting you all know how you can help soon.

One of the younger Baker Street Irregulars had a doctor’s appointment this week. She is what their grandmother calls “a little hyperactive.” She barely spoke at all before she went to preschool and kept running out to the street to babble at strangers. Now the Little Tyke is verbal, learning her numbers and letters; she likes to sing along and do the hand motions with songs. She graduates from preschool next week.

“You’ll be a graduate!” I congratulated her. “You’ll be very smart.”

I’ve never been on ADHD medication, so I didn’t know that you need to take your child right to the doctor to get weighed and measured on the day you run out of your prescription or you can’t get any of that highly controlled substance. That was my errand with Grandma and the Little Tyke. The Little Tyke was very well behaved on the ride to the doctor, and apparently was just as angelic as the doctor weighed and measured her. But she began to hit withdrawal when she got out of the doctor’s office and back into the Neighborhood Trolley. We stopped at the gas station across the street to fill the tank and to get her some candy as a reward for being good at the doctor, but by the time Grandma got back from the convenience store she was not “being good” anymore. She’d taken off her safety belt over the booster seat twice, and wouldn’t stop rolling down the window. My coaxing about safety rules didn’t seem to get through. My reminding her that little girls who don’t wear a safety belt might fly through the windshield didn’t work either. Only Grandma’s stern warning that “the police will take you away to jail!” got her to sit down long enough to be buckled.

“I don’t want my Reese cup,” said the Little Tyke as we got back on the freeway.

“You can give it to Sissy when you get home,” said Grandma.

“Have a Reese cup, Miss Mary,” said the Little Tyke.

“I can’t take it, I’m driving,” I said. “I’ll take it when we stop.”

The Little Tyke made a noise like a Nazgul and spit out her chocolate all over the back of the car. Then she started rolling down the window again, and I couldn’t stop her. The window is manual with an old-fashioned crank. That’s how I got such a good car so cheap. The Little Tyke stuck her chocolatey hand out the window as we went sixty miles an hour through Brook County.

“Stop that!” I told the Little Tyke, remembering all the car safety rules I’d learned in the 80s and 90s.  “Your hand could get cut off!”

She did not stop. Her grandmother gave her a napkin to wipe off with, and the went onto the freeway as well. Next thing I knew, the Little Tyke was taking off her safety belt. Then Grandma’s safety belt went off and she turned around backwards to corral the Little Tyke before she discovered that the door could also be unlocked and opened manually.

“We’ll get a ticket!” I pleaded with the Little Tyke.

“A ticket to where?”

“A ticket to the station to pay the police way more money than I have!”

We got off the freeway into another gas station lot and moved the booster seat to the middle seatbelt. Grandma rode with the Little Tyke in the back the rest of the way home, watching sing-along song videos on the cell phone. She was very good at doing all the hand motions, which kept her hands off of the window.

I promised to take the Little Tyke to the zoo sometime this summer, when her older siblings are visiting family. But somehow I felt like I’d been at the zoo for the past half hour.

Another day this week, I took an older woman out shopping.

She’d broken her leg and ended up in a nursing home recovering– grateful that she got placed in one, but bored out of her mind and impossibly far from the bus route. The nursing home is friendly to her, but the food is terrible. She asked for a ride to get some snacks of her own.

We went to Aldi, reading every package, talking about good cheese and special fancy crackers. We stopped at Dollar Tree to look at a display of cheap t-shirts. At one point we went to Wendy’s so she and her roommate could have a hot meal that wasn’t from the nursing home cafeteria. That was when the rain came, as it often does in the Ohio valley– a sudden front of dark gray rolling in on an otherwise clear afternoon, all the mugginess in the air congealing into a cloudburst. At first the drops twinkled in the air like shards of glass with the last of the sun, and then the sun was gone. Parking lots turned into swimming pools. Gutters overflowed. The dead trees homeowners had been putting off cutting down all over LaBelle became dangerous projectiles as the wind set in. The older woman got soaked just rushing from the Wendy’s to the nearby car.

“Will your food get spoiled if we go to another store before going home?”

“It doesn’t matter. It will be cold but at least it’s not from the cafeteria. There’s no ice in the drinks.”

We went to the Wintersville Kroger, but the Wintersville Kroger is small and doesn’t have a very good selection. I asked if she wanted to try the Kroger in Steubenville which is much bigger. We started to drive back to Steubenville, on the big wide arterial that is called Sunset Boulevard.

That was when the sun came out, low in the sky.

We were driving east toward the Ohio river. Before us, arching across the sky, was the brightest rainbow imaginable.

When I lived in Columbus, rainbows after a storm were something that happened in children’s books. I rarely saw them in real life. Something about the elevation and the weather patterns in Steubenville makes them more common and brighter. This one was the brightest and best defined I’d seen: a rich, vibrant, perfect arch from Toronto to the north of us all the way to Mingo Junction in the south. Above it was another, fainter bow, and below it was a third faint bow. Twenty-one bands of color, from pastel.

As we drove, as Sunset Boulevard bent this way and that way as it wound downhill toward the Ohio, it seemed as if the rainbow was moving– dodging, dancing, shifting from one foot to another to hide its pot of gold. Maybe the gold was to the north of us in Toronto, Ohio. No, it must be in the south in Mingo Junction. No, now it was back in Steubenville again. It was right where we were. The gold was everywhere present and filling all things. You could never chase after it, never grasp it, never put it in a bank and spend it, but it was all around.

And then we saw a fourth rainbow, over to the south beyond the hill: a pillar of light and raindrops a long way away, streaking out of a dark cloud to the ground, but in stead of plain yellow light the light was in seven colors.

By the time we got out of the Steubenville Kroger, the rain and the rainbows were gone. It was an ordinary, soggy day, with no mystery in it.

I took her back to the nursing home with her treasures.

If I had had the life I’d wanted– the life I still desperately want, an upper middle-class life with good health and normal fertility in a pleasant bustling city with lots of things to do for fun– I might not have known how many people are struggling, and the help they need, and how to pass my good luck around.

If I’d been the person I desperately wanted, and still want, to be, I might not have been able to help.

Was it worth it to go through all of these storms– to still, at this moment, be weathering so many storms– just to see the rainbow?

I don’t know.

But it’s something.



Image via Wikimedia commons
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
Steel Magnificat operates almost entirely on tips. To tip the author, visit our donate page.


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