Monday, March 30, 2009

Train Tracks

We always want this to be the one. ' This is it. This is what we have all been waiting for. Here is the love that I've known was there, made for me and this person is it. This is the piece that connects my present life, career, with the future.' So how do we know when it ACTUALLY is 'the one'? When we feel it, don't we know it?

Are we kidding ourselves? No. We've thought it over, weighed each side and yes, this is it. I've thought this is the one who will help me teach my kids how to read or become best friends with my siblings as I am. Or this is the one, unlandscaped hacienda by the train tracks on the border that will be the place where I paint my masterpiece. So how, then, do we really know? I guess we cease from planning. The plan is there. The action, there for us to take is the listening, the being there- where the knowledge is. In that moment, the place where decisions are made, not by you but by the path of the right idea that is constructed by the truth of life, the situation, our existence.
Para vivir en plentitud, era preciso estar en constante movimiento.

(To live a full life, you must stay in constant motion.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

I don't even know her name

' I don't know her name', I am thinking as she is bear hugging my torso, nuzzling into my arm. She walked down from the Colonia neighborhood with her 3 grand kids looking for English class. I told her it was tomorrow and she came back to be the first of Walter, our incredibly talented recent high school graduate who is volunteering for us. He has stepped up to the plate and let's me throw him into this small class, which he takes on with great confidence. I was in the computer lab with another small group of kids from the Colonia. They wanted to get on the Internet so we looked up Honduran Futbol teams. When I came in at the end of class, Walter had his students standing in a circle passing around a broom stick, taking turns introducing themselves.
She asked if she could bring more students, she said there were ' montones' of people who wanted to learn English in the Colonia. I told her if they were serious, we could handle 20 people. The next day as kids from school are waiting to get picked up from our student-run after school program, one 9th grader comes in and tells me there are 20 people standing outside the gate.
I went outside and there they were, about 4 families ready to take advantage of a little

edu-macation! This group has returned, most, anyway, twice a week for the past 3 weeks. They are bringing their own notebooks and are beginning to smile.
Back to her. She tells me the first night we met that her daughter, the mother of these new students is in the Coxen Hole public hospital, very sick. She has come to class, accompanying her grand kids and making sure they stay focused on the material. Tonight I watch her slowly begin to copy each letter of the English words her 8-year old grand daughter has written. I come over to her and she tries to slip her awkward, messy writing under that of her granddaughter. I found out her name is Guadalupe. I tell her we are ALL learning, this is what we are here for. She continues to copy, I tell her to write each word 3 times until she feels like she got it.

This Woman, rough and soft, knows the hardships of this world. You can see it in her strong, bulky hands and in the deep laugh lines around her eyes. She is well past the age of a ‘student’ in this country and has yet to master writing the correct from of the letter ‘S’. She knows that ‘There is no knowledge that is not power’. She corrects her grandchildren with quick, physical gestures, struggling to ensure that hers will survive.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Irish Man Will Pass On

An Irish man will pass on

The man who brought me into this world has passed on to the next. He covered me in shamrock stickers moments after he gently brought me from the safety and warmth of my mother’s womb and into this crazy, beautiful world. I am deep into the southern realm of my life, now, following the path or living my dream. I strive to return to my birthplace to wear a bright hat with my cousins and aunts to sing an Irish hymn in celebration of our leader; to raise my glass with the dozens of Martin’s and others whom my Uncle Dan touched during his life. To be there with them, all of the efforts, struggles, loves of our ancestry, releasing our uncle to the next journey. Not until now, have I ever felt so homesick.

He was the anchor, the strong man, our rock in so many times of uncertainty. His children are some of my most favorite people on this Earth. They always looked after me, from across the cul de sac on Reauville. Once, during the fire of my adolescence and the end of my parents’ partnership, I spent Christmas Eve at Uncle Dan’s, or Buddha’s house, escaping from my dysfunction amidst the laughter and Irish ale on the other side of the neighborhood.

His children, Cathy, Danny, Johnny, Michael and Sarah are gold, always around the corner with a clever punch line or witty observance. They are loving and charming; his wife, Mary Lou, gracious and tender.

His soft eyes and gentle grin, created a space for those around to feel welcome and worthwhile. Never bending to the pressures of taking sides or telling the tales of others; sitting there at Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Nellie’s house, our profiles the same; our inheritance of the ‘Lavery Nose’. He, like our Nana, and my cousin Catherine, carry the Lavery name to the next. My Uncle Dan, with a huge shamrock painted on the backboard of the basketball hoop in the driveway. He, who sings us proud Irish songs with Uncle Jim. The Patron Saint of the Warson Woods Martin-Lavery Clan leaves us with salty eyes and wide grins.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Could you be loved?

The lesson that seems to come through so many facades in life, for which we use clich├ęs like ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’, has come to mind over the last few days. Is it a bad idea to cradle this idea of your knight in shining armor, your lifelong love? Is love not surrounding us at this very moment? Greater, yet, than I can understand or realize in its fullness, and still I want something more.

The last love of that kind came into my life when I was completely caught unawares. Struggling day after, almost every day, to celebrate small, subtle successes or freedoms. Gaining an understanding, or perhaps a reunion with the presence of All Love, which I think I knew, as most do, very well as a kid. I was there, in the stress and anxiety of a tremendous responsibility, teaching kids caught in the throws of generations of struggle. No change, no success, no love was simply not a possibility, not for these kids.

I learned the value of waking earlier to relax, laying flat in my bed, being “present” with the calmness of a dark, humid morning, before entering the sea of teenage angst coupled with a shocking, failing education system. Learning that even the smallest break or accomplishment, is a step in the right direction. Be grateful, count our blessings and we will receive more.

A meager romantic life during this time, but my professional life, or dare I say my path, calling as it were, was providing constant companionship. In addition to the struggle, there were numerous blessings, friends, beach volleyball Sundays ending at Harley’s on the backside of the bayou, and trips to Mexico during our much needed school vacations. A few rodeos, sleeping in small border town churches during a protest march with my comrades, a smoky karaoke bar on South Padre Island, running along the border levy with Gordo, with giant stalks of Agave growing on the Mexican side, the look of people in the supermarket when a hipped-out Latino teenager bumps knuckles with me in the checkout line. For all the gripe of the education system there, my personal life was full, even without a man. It was then I became peaceful with life as it was even with the exhaustion from school days spent holding our ground against the low student expectations set by our leaders. I towered over men in town and definitely found it difficult to relate to most. But life was so full, and getting fuller with each day.

It was at that time, when I was content and charging down the path, that I fell in love. Totally threw the plans for a loop, but such a beautiful gift it was; I thought it was the real deal. That relationship is over now, and my path is getting more fulfilling and incredible as I go. It is as though, now, I crave, do I admit to it?- The One.

Even as I type that the phrase, “ We always want what we don’t have.” Could that be true, am I just focusing on a ‘want’ that I don’t have, rather than all of the other ‘wants’ and needs that I DO have? The life I am being blessed with is incredible. I could desire no more, I already have more than I know what to do with.