There is an old expression or quote or riff on a saying that true love is falling in love with the same person over and over again. This weekend, my FHB and I, along with a group of music lovers, enjoyed an annual jazz performance on a hot and sultry Sunday morning with some hot and cool jazz which made the listeners sway and shut their eyes and feel the music in their souls. The church was the backdrop for the experience and it was filled with many of the same locals you seen at similar events. The filtered sunlight came through the stained glass windows as we sat and fanned ourselves with the paper fans we were given as we entered the space. Then there was that moment, like a firecracker’s sizzle, which made me swell with love, for this place, this moment, this city.
The theme of the concert was on inclusion. The singer, who was the M.C. stated that we are all better together in moments of crisis and in joy. I couldn’t agree more. New Bedford is my long time city and it has managed to pull me back when I strayed to nearby towns for several years in the forty-two years I’ve lived in Southcoast. A city is a complex living organism. It grows and stagnates at moments. It thrives on care and positive interaction. It withers with neglect and indifference. The city I discovered in 1976 was losing some of its leaves, it’s vibrancy and it’s businesses. There was some movement to more suburban/rural communities and yet now there is a flurry of growth, revitalization and so much energy.
I tried to figure out what the love I felt was made of. As in all relationships, there are days that are hard, filled with anger and disappointment and frustration during which you question, what am I doing here, does it matter? It’s people who make a city be and become. It is that sense of hope and challenge to make it strong and vital and better for the residents and for the future residents. New Bedford has history, and cultural dynamics that appear in the different elements of food, cultural diversity and a willingness to problem solve as a collective. It is a social consciousness that shows up in the music heard at all the venues around town and in the art, both gallery and public, and the food that is served inside homes, shared with friends and neighbors as well as in the restaurant scene, available and abundant.
Drove through some nearby communities, some with a lot more opulance, more visible affluence. Drove by houses with manicured lawns and grand driveways and property. Didn’t see any people. Couldn’t connect with the energy because it was like a Hollywood set, between scenes. Drove back to my city, my home and sure, there were pockets of poverty, dirt, loud noises and disarray, but when you come back to your own safe zone, and it isn’t picture perfect everywhere, you know people are really living there, living their lives, doing their best, together. You could feel the pulse and all that jazz. Cha cha cha.
Take a listen…