Tag Archives: engagement

Better Together

4 T UMAX     PL-II            V1.5 [6]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…

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Little Face in the Window

Window Sill with Hands

Last week, while we were driving to run some errands, we had left the loft and took our usual route through neighboring streets.  We live in a gritty part of New Bedford, with triple deckers, and houses in disrepair, in need of painting.  There’s little beauty, little green, to break up the neglected facades of the buildings.  It was a bright, sunny afternoon. I shielded my eyes and reached up to bring the visor down.  I glanced out my window and saw a face from the second floor of a yellow sided building,looking down.  It was a little boy’s face looking through the screen. He was staring out.  We drove past. His face somehow was etched in my mind.

He might have been five or six.  He had his hand pressed on the screen.  He was expressionless.  Maybe that is why it lives in my head.  It was two in the afternoon.  I thought he should be outside in the fresh air.  I thought, who is watching him, and who would watch him on the street to keep him safe.  I wondered what his surroundings look like and is he hungry.  Does he have a bed and does he have blankets and covers.  I worried about him.  Does he have toys.  Is the window his view of the world, his world and his life.

All week, as I looked at the faces of the students I talk to, I wondered if they had a younger sibling.  I looked at their faces and saw sadness, struggle and frustration.  I felt tired and a little burnt out.  I never mind hard work but sometimes the work is especially hard.  This morning I was reading an email at work and getting ready to respond when I was startled by a girl’s voice saying hi.  I turned and she smiled and said “did I scare you?” and I said that I was just deep in thought reading and invited her in.  I asked her what was going on and she said “I just wanted to see my best person” and invited herself in and took a seat.  I shut the door and smiled.  We had met within the first weeks of school.  She had been a reluctant visitor to my office since her sister, and another friend, had brought me some texts she had written the night before, or maybe it was early morning, that said she was planning on killing herself and that they shouldn’t tell anyone.  Gratefully, they told, she and I  talked, and somehow, from an angry demeanor and initial emotional barricade, she began to stop in  weekly, and talk a bit. We talk of families and disappointments and trust and nail salons.  We talk about banana splits and boyfriends and falling in love.  From sullen and disengaged, comes eye contact and laughter.

I drove home tonight in the darkness.  I don’t like the darkness.  The little boy’s face is still in my head.  Once kid at a time. One face at a time.