Friday, May 29, 2009

St. Patrick's School

I went home to Syracuse. It wasn't for long, just a weekend. I dragged people to eat where I wanted and tried to see the people I love. I had to pack the last six months into forty-eight hours. Because, I never get home enough.

Patrick asked me, "Why not Syracuse for Law School?" I told him the truth. If I went home to go to school I would never finish.

Houses appeared around out of nowhere, things looked different here and there. Essentially however, I treat Syracuse like a time capsule. My roots, family, closest friends and history all neatly preserved and packaged for my small doses as needed. This is delusional. Completely.

My friends' children are growing up, my niece and nephew drive and my familiar places are all changing. And why is Carousel exploding?

All of these things catch me off-guard. But I quickly adjust and smile. One thing is too significant to change. Something very close to my heart that loosing it will only be such a great blow to me and my family.

I was dropping a friend off at his place across from St. Pats when I saw the for sale sign on the school. This is where my parents grew up. This is where my grandmother learned to read. She used to tell me how the school had so many children in it they would have classrooms in the gymnasium. Now its halls are empty and the history at risk.

I want to see it turned into an Irish American cultural museum. The Tipperary Hill Museum. How? A marathon. There is no Marathon in Syracuse, I say we have one on St. Patrick's Day. I say we start a foundation.

Does it take a girl long since removed to see what we are loosing at home?

St. Patrick's is an enormous piece of my history right down to the one brick in the wall that is different from all the others... That would be the one my Dad carved out when he was a child. I owe that school my little life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

four door hatchback

Sometimes when I am homesick I sit in my old car listening to music. The scenery around it has always been changing, but the inside is just the same. The little compartment is the only consistent place I have had for seven years. A quarter of my life means something, or at least should.

Mary E. X. Holmes
4-door Hatchback
Some Pavement
BPB 7543

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Arthur John Rhoades

My mother was the youngest of three children, Arthur, Sharon and Mary. My Uncle Arty never shied away from being a source of joy in my life. The word doting could almost be an understatement.

He passed away after 71 years of life last Saturday night, I had been waiting for the call for a few days feeling helpless. He was a metallurgist, and retired from Crucible Steel Co. living in Florida. He had gone into the doctor's with what he thought was a cold and discovered, like his baby sister before him, he was losing a battle to lung cancer. He lasted about a week.

When I found out he was sick last week, there wasn't anything I could do but think of him constantly. He was the only son of an only son and had no children, the Rhoades name died with him. One of my thoughts was, when I finally got around to changing my name, to change it to Mary Rhoades. I don't know what people would think, but I more or less gave up caring about that a while ago.

Art was an incredibly funny man, dry humor and great wit. He could make my mother laugh till her face turned red. I am not sure what kind of time my brothers and sisters spent with Uncle Arty, but I had many many hours of him and I on the golf course on the weekends. He used to leave his lit Pall Mall on the ground while he tee'd off and walk the fairway with it peacefully. He more or less golfed everyday for the last sixteen years.

He married my Aunt Ruth about the same time he retired. He was a very tall, dark haired and lean man. Ruth is petite and blond. She has an classic kind of Hollywood style to her and the laugh to match. When it came to cute they were the definition. They built a house in Florida and golfed together everyday and were happy. Ruth has had poor health recently and loosing her sight, I hope she'll come home to Syracuse to be near my Aunt Sharon.

I regret not spending more time with him as of late, I wish I had a few more conversations with him under my belt. The thought of what I am missing from his perspective drives me to heartbreak. When I was little time with Uncle Arty was an absolute treat and I of course adored him. His sisters gave him quite the fan club with ten nieces and nephews between them. Although my father's side of the family was large and near rowdy in comparison, my mother's was small. There was always all the attention in the world to be had from Grandma Ella, Uncle Arty, Great Uncle John and Great Aunt Kate, and of course Aunt Sharon and Uncle Eddie.

I would sit through long afternoons drinking tea with that list of people on a very regular basis. I was the only little one around and I had them all to myself. Then came the strokes, cancer and time. Now what absolutely breaks my heart is Aunt Sharon. Growing up surrounded by my family the thought of solitude frightens and sickens me. I can not imagine not having my siblings. There is little I wouldn't trade to give Aunt Sharon another afternoon at her kitchen table with Ella and Arthur Rhoades, John and Kate Ryan and Mary Margaret. I'm glad Aunt Sharon and Uncle Eddie have moved, to walk into that kitchen now would really hurt. In my mother's family Aunt Shar is all we have left.

From my Uncle's backyard in Florida you could watch the rockets launch from Cape Canaveral while you were sitting in his hot tub. You could walk to any restaurant in town or drive your golf cart. The long hours in the sun left Uncle Arty's skin dark but Aunt Ruth would wear a hat. I have many little pieces in my jewelry box from Uncle Arty. There is the silver golf bag charm on a chain and the gold and abalone dolphin pendant he gave me soon after he settled on moving to Florida. One is a piece he gave my mother. Its a gold and scarab bracelet and I won't be taking it off for a while. Time will take what you love away from you, your love alone is all that is eternal.

Friday, May 15, 2009


When you are an accident prone individual you get used to a few things. Like always having beaten up shoes because you don't know how to properly walk. Or dents and scratches on your cell phone and mp3 players because things fall right out of your hands. You don't even notice or care how you got the massive bruise on your knee and you have nearly no tension left in the tendons of your ankles cause you roll them daily.

I'm focusing on something else and my mind is in a million places while I count on my body to handle the basics on its own. What's wrong with a little delegation? You crack comments as I trip on the escalator again but if you only knew the idea I just had you'd have fallen down the damn thing.

So I may have hit the wrong button at the ATM or ticket kiosk. This doesn't mean I'm inept for god sake. I don't see the action a priority in comparison to the thought my mind is entertaining. Did it ever occur to you the fact that your hovering is catalysing my frazzle? Its OK, really, I'm fine. I was probably thinking of what color to paint my room or wondering when I last called my sister.

At one point in my life I grew really fast in a really small amount of time, since then I bump my head and stub my toes a lot. I'm too busy worrying about everything I say or trying to wrap my head around why you're saying what you're saying to care where I am walking. I avoid using umbrellas.

I need to pay better attention, but it gets so boring if I do, and then forget it I'm thinking of something else. This is how I am when I run. Luckily, I haven't injured myself yet. I've gotten incredibly good at compensating when I drop what's in my hands or trip. I seem to catch what's falling regularly. Life is graceful this way.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Exodus from Essex

It was very late at night, incredibly late. My mother was on her way to my flat with a taxi and I hadn't packed. I spent the night out on campus with people I never wanted to loose. It was one toast with Wayne, another with James and three or four with Jess. It was hugs from the footballers and a few more songs. A last dance with Ethan and he told me we'd always have the night sky.

Then we headed back to the flat. It took at least four people to help me pack. I left behind posters and blankets and bulky things from the dorm I could never get into my trunk. But somethings I left for them to remember me. I gave Jess my Grateful Dead shirt, the one I wore nearly daily. It had holes for my thumbs and was the softest thing ever created. I left Ethan my second favorite shirt, the one I found volunteering for the rescue mission. It was an ancient ringer that read "I *heart* Syracuse."

I didn't want to leave. I missed my family, but I knew no matter where I went they would always be behind me. I still feel that way. I miss them but I have them with me at all times. I fit at Essex a hundred times more than I fit at Fisher. I felt like I was tearing out a piece of myself and leaving it for no reason. I wanted to stay. But there was a magnet pulling me back home with greater force. No one thing was enough to return to NY, but the combination was incredibly powerful.

I had dropped off the face of the Earth to entire groups of people I cared about. I had disappeared, somewhat intentionally, for almost a year. Now I had to go back and resurface. It was going to be a shock. My house was different, my family was different and my second home at Fisher was completely different. The thought of having to pick up the pieces at home and rebuild my life was daunting. I wanted to stay. I knew I was doomed in love and life at home. But I had to face it just as a ship can't ignore a set anchor if it wants to sail on.

In terms of hindsight, that trip back was an absolute schism in my timeline.

We finally got everything into a bag. Jess lent me some luggage. I hauled it down to the taxi stand to meet Mom. She was long overdue back in the U.S. Her long hiatus from our family made her anxious and guilt filled. Not that she didn't enjoy it, she did.

Travis was waiting for me at the airport in Syracuse with Dad. They both looked different. Mom and I surrendered to them in our weary. Two women coming home to face two men they once truly loved. Everything changes in time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


May, if anything, is a month of anniversaries. This May marks my parents' forty-seventh, my sister's eighteenth, Dad's first with Judy and the Marsherall's third. In May I celebrate my Un-versary with the same proud toast.

I used to be able to fit everything I owned in my car.

Before I was grown.

I arrived at that house with two trunks and some clothes.

We filled it with furniture and wedding gifts.

Cause we thought we were grown.

I packed away my composition books, charcoals and passport.

I gave up all my campus campaigns.

Cause I thought that was what you did when you were grown.

We ate dinner each night and watched Jeopardy.

We spent Saturdays at Home Depot.


We considered buying a grave site.

It was over anyway.

We weren't in love but we had each other.

We had grown.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Pura Vida

No matter how large or diverse the city is it has become my little corner of the world, and my world shrinks.

The back of my newly acquired t-shirt read Event Staff and I was sitting coffee in hand far too early on a Saturday morning checking in volunteers. We would spend the day at the service of the Central American Resource Center, CARECEN on Columbia Ave. in D.C.

I tried to take in the lobby of the center. It was painted brightly with a perfectly tiled floor, very fitting. The walls were covered with posters in Spanish and English advertising voter registration and other citizenship material. There was a framed poster saying "El Salvador, Remember!" Another with Archbishop Romero and children. One large frame contained hundreds of newspaper clippings, the only one I could read from my seat saying "No Human Being is Illegal."

This was not just a room, it was a center for a community of people fighting. Maybe if I change the word to struggling you'd get what you felt was a better sense of the issue. But I won't rescind, its a fight. Struggle to me points to some weakness on the part of the victim, there is no such thing here. Its a fight, not fair, but a fight.

Today has nothing to do with that. Today is just a day where people from the community stop by and help for a few hours, try their hand at painting, maybe move some old files around. Today is the contrasting calendar day to the rest of the 364.
This Saturday we are neighbors not statistics, we are friends not immigrants and natives. Not Cowboys and Indians. We are in a different place where even the freckled faced redhead guy is speaking Spanish. In one morning we get more grunt work done than the center could all year. There are thank yous, smiles, free t-shirts and beer.

By Monday will they remember their neighbor? Or will they become the people who see immigration as the immigrants problem and fail to see the decrepit rotting system as the source? I can't imagine its these people, not the people I came to know that morning, they can't be the opposition. But they are somewhere, out there, in my country, claiming it all for their own and living in fear of everything. Fighting with my friends. And I'll be damned.