SHE… was herself, K, and straight solid with no regrets. Neither an artificial bone in her body, nor fabricated thought in her head. Thankfully so. Earlier in the day she had not been sure of herself. But she realized she was ok when she began to stand out against the sea of plastic sentiment which always arose on this day. Unstoppable. No one could do much about it, this was true. Most everyone stood out against it, hopefully. She was not sure she would not sink into it like quicksand. She worried she might lose herself. Earlier. When she began to feel some unwelcome pitter-patter rustling out the corners of her atmosphere. Started in her gut possibly. Or a few yards away where the friction of metal and metal under pressure generated the same sorta rustling. Some kid was trying to dislodge a fencepost.
She tried to welcome the unwelcome. She was a well-intentioned girl, really. But intentions were hard-pressed and lesser than the big day surrounded them. This day. Harder yet to hold on a saturday. And harder yet on this, the big holy day! A day whose anniversaries she could not recall so well. So full of Irish coffees, was she. Bitter to the taste, for her, as it was for many. Of course she was not one of those who went headlong into it like always, nor did she fancy herself a storyteller in the loud laughing boisterous way the Irish have! Nah. Leave any recollecting to them, she thought wisely, and just enjoy the listening party.
She swished mouthwash in her mouth until the sting wore off and the bitter was deluged with mint green. Artificial, yes. The taste. The color. But preferable indeed to the natural bitterness on her tongue she could not stand. Not on or off her tongue, bitterness. And certainly not in her mind, for fear of cutting short her truth at some sardonic jagged edge. For fear she might evolve some slant to the ends of her spoken words, which might leave eyelashes crushed against lower eyelids of friends or other ends of conversation. No. Anyone could tell ya; bitterness unchecked becomes a contagion of the mind…and the heart is soon to follow. A sad way to go. She would not go anywhere near there. For fear. She had reason to go there, if anyone had reason. She was drawn towards cynicism, as life wore on. It sold itself easy. She needed no pitch. That’s why she kept fear between her and the allure.
All this went through her mind and soon swirled, along with the generic green mouthwash, down the sinkpipe. Green, she suddenly realized fit the occasion of the day. The same old Saint, another year. But who knew what might happen? Anything! (Hopefully nothing, she secretly prayed). Dyed green, the rivers of some cities were. Artificiality was unquestioned all day, this day! Four leaf clovers? Too scarce! Paper renditions were fabricated in the schools and the homes. Pinned and held up and shown off! White paper colored kelly green with magic markers. Luck luck, luck! Glued to sticks for the kids for the parade. To be trodden over, later. Left behind by the kids thumbing suckers into their candy-coated mouths dyed lime and red and blue. But mainly lime, mainly green. To add to the tide of plastic cups and mugs and candy wrappers and streamers and plastic horns and other noisemakers and tributes, swept in from the suburbs and left like in a pool.
Leprechauns looked up from under potholes, she thought, up from the dark underbelly of the city into the fading light so humid so wet with tears of joy and piss and sweat and saliva. The leprechauns would not want. They would not want nor carrry on. They would watch and witness and not identify nor be identified. The sentiment could not seduce them, she told herself. Why she made this up in her mind she did not know, but she really believed it to be true for a moment. She could envision the leprechauns and feel their pain. Ha! Had she gone mad? Would some lassie make friends with her and pull the funny idea right out of her? How she would cry after all: Dontcha See them? Now they’re gone but didn’t ya see their eyes peeping up from below?
You hallucinated, she told herself, You dreamt it all! She played the part of the non-believer talking back at her. Being rude and inflexible. The role play did something to lighten her spirit. Maybe ’cause it gave her some empowerment she never had when up against that kind of wall. So many textures, so many walls. Some hidden behind ivy. Still, once she put her hands up and felt around? She touched wall. A wall was a wall was a wall. And most could not stand her chipping away at them. After all, that hurts! Drilling into something to break it apart piecemeal? This inflicts pain!
Overall she found herself unbiased toward St. Patrick‘s Day. She was a lover of saints. She read all about them in a book her friend Sarah had, which introduced to her wonderful sketches of each and every Saint. Fascinating! This teaching made Catholicism Meaningful to her in a different way. In a wonderful way. The saints formed a kind of organic container into which she could place all of the crazy stories she heard (and presumed to be true) of angry nuns and heavy-handed efforts toward proselytizing those who wanted mainly to be left alone later in life, when it came to nudging towards any kind of organized teachings or institutionalized forms of religions or ideologies. Their experience of Catholicism held the weight of real trauma, many of them. Certainly not all of them!
Most felt inextricably linked to the whole mighty Catholic presence in America and the world, she believed. So they participated half-heartedly perhaps in the rituals, the honoring of saints, and so forth. Maybe the world offered their children a kinder, gentler Catholicism. Or maybe they tried one of the other Christian faiths. Episcopal, Presybyterian, Congregational. Besides, what had life to offer without parades? Without green rivers and shots of beer dropped in baileys (the Irish car bomb, someone told her)? Some just found a place to rest within the faith, having maybe dealt with any trauma, or come to a higher awareness: dripped any residual poisons slow through the purifying lens of understanding and forgiveness, then dropped themselves free of its sediment, like an novitiate in robes, to their knees with renewed faith and spirit.
What a moment! What a moment she had contemplating the moment she imagined some of her friends may have had in coming to terms with their faith! She had this moment of course in public. Well, in private in public. No one was paying attention to her moment but her. That’s the way she wanted it. There in the midst of parade chaos in her city she could not escape. As she walked along she saw it all, the fiery young men and women having a time of it! Boozing and fighting like geese for candy chucked to the pavement. Forgetting themselves for the children looking quizzical. The adults fighting for their candy, wasn’t it? But attention could not rest anywhere for anybody; getting blasted by horns in the ear, merciless goodwill and redfaced cheer.
Left many a one dazed like a zombie in the shallows. In the headlights like a deer. And dropped like acid on to the tongue of the city. Wading through mobs of families laughing and intoxicated by the sun and wind and sentiment. Kids crying. Green party favors flying. Esophageal of humid city bubblegum and beer. Wet streets showered in piss and Jameson bottles broken green in the gutters. Lift your feet to a sucking sound spun up from your sole through your hollow leg and into the maze of intestine then dissipating in the heat come off your heart and lungs. Singing songs of old Ireland on the railcar. Oh Danny Boy! The pipes! The pipes are callin’!
She found herself in the sea of people, losing balance in the heavy energetics. Found herself almost falling into the armpit of some construction worker holding on to the top bar. This Lad he was heads above us all! she wondered, and fine! thick as an oak tree. And proud. They feed them shepherd’s pie and pride, she thought, all of them seem to come born with this self-assuredness. She used to be intimidated, but now she found the quality benevolent. She smiled up at him. He smiled back. She wondered if he was from Belfast. She never knew anyone from Belfast. Maybe he was a second generation Irish-American. Maybe his dad was in the IRA… maybe he has a sweet girl at home, Orla is her name. Raven hair. Like many that Yeats described so wishfully.
K! She came back to herself once she stepped off the train and on to the solid platform, downtown Oakland. She BLINKED her eyelids in rapid succession, and tossed a load of horse manure into the sub or non- conscious (saved the other ones lives, she did). BELIEVE IT! K. She smiled and knew the others knew not. K was homeless at the time, so thus preoccupied with survival not SHOUTING DOWN ignorance and ill-favored presumption. K she went on and found a nice room somewhere far off from the others. There she ate peanut butter, drank rice. Rice Milk, horchata, and flicked pellets of catfood out into the living area so to admire the flawless reflexes of young Drama. Her protégé accompli!
LIFE was amazing, incredible. PAINFUL. Frightening. Quiet sometimes, chaotic others. The walls were very thick. Thank goddess. Sometimes thick walls comforted her. But not when they were people, too. Anyway, she wasn’t going off into that soap opera again. No more heartache sounding from the midday section of weary night hunters (more like gatherers). On queue, at your local S.R.O. CHECK IT! Single room occupants, like vampires in double jeopardy rivers, swimming upstream and crashing in all found eddies. Similitude found ( but not appreciated) in the guise of stagnant choking waters. Consideration paid via contingency planning to inhabit the local landfill and acclimate if possible to these lands of wastelands of corporate protocols which firmly reject the necessary changes which could have prevented our future. These were among her choice thoughts of her own…
(All of us) in a fishbowl of refuse, styrofoam, medical waste, contaminated waters, non- sustaining meals secured in national and international heavy deluge of ad campaigns for the largest gathering of dumpster divers ever. The choking breath of stale air. Thus marked the end of the innocence. Say goodbye to life at the county fair. I think the concept fell out when survival mode came back in fashion. Was that what? Say twenty-ninety- five? When the global earthquakes triggered off like dominoes, and the existing nuclear power plants took a collective dive? You know, when we all got cancer and had to take those carcinobiotics to abort the tumors. ONLY to watch our electricity current pull away, and the ides of march packed up and moved to May… I moved to Vancouver, then, what to nobody’s dismay.