Sunday, March 13, 2011

Luck o' the Irish

Horse of a different color?  From the 2008 St. Patrick's Day Parade
I am so grateful to be working, and every time I pass a gas station and look at the prices (lowest in the area is $3.45/gallon), I am so grateful that my commute consists of walking down the stairs.  However, since I worked some yesterday, and I will work some more today, it's also keeping me pinned in to a large degree, and my sense of isolation deepens because all my plans to begin volunteering and to hopefully meet some like-minded people are on hold until I can manage my time better.

In the meantime, I continue to have this sense that life is passing me by and that I am fish out of water, particularly since I have landed myself in the middle of a predominantly (and perhaps almost exclusively) Irish Catholic neighborhood, and it's almost St. Patrick's Day.  So?  You ask yourself.  It's a silly little holiday where you wear green, drink green beer and have a built in excuse to get plowed in the middle of the work week.  Not so here, my friend.  St. Patrick's Day, I am finding, is on par with Christmas in other parts of the country (I can hardly wait to see what Christ's birthday brings out in these people - some of whom STILL have their holiday decorations out).  At first, I didn't catch on to its import in these parts.  I noticed a lot of houses sported green shamrocks in their windows and doors, but I attributed it to the propensity of the older ladies to decorate for every holiday imaginable, many of whom also dress up plaster geese in their front yard.  But, as the holiday approaches, more and more houses are sporting decorations.  I am now in the small minority who does not have something resembling a shamrock or a leprechaun in sight.  Yesterday, my sports obsessed neighbor (I say that not because I know him, but because every time I see him he's dressed like me - Pens or Steelers gear), took down his Penguins banner (which I really want) and replaced it with a St. Patrick's Day Banner, and he's got two plastic shamrocks covering his garage lights.  A house down the street is flying an Irish flag below the US flag, but I noticed the Irish flag is a bit bigger.  I found a hair salon in the neighborhood, and my hair dresser came in dressed in green from head to toe, including her nails, ready to go to a party last night.  Hers was one of several, I am gathering, seeing clusters of cars at various houses as I walked Cheyenne around last night.  Today, the church at the corner is packed.  The thing I love about the Irish, having grown up next to an Irish Catholic family, is they have a robust flavor for life and aren't afraid to live it because they just go to church and repent the next day.

Then there was the parade.  The Parade, I should say.  I heard about it the night before, having already made a much needed and overdue hair appointment for the morning.  Watching the news, it was referenced several times, but always just as "The Parade" as if everyone watching simply knew what it was and no additional explanation was necessary.  Finally they interviewed the organizer of this year's parade and did a little human interest piece on it, and I was able to fill in the blanks.  Pittsburgh is home to the third largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the country.  And I missed it.  But, my hair looks good, so I guess there's a silver lining there.

Yet, I spent the day feeling like a kid outside the candy store, pressing her nose on the glass, but not able to go in.  I moved all the way here to start a new life and put the tragedy of the past behind me, but I have yet to get a foothold on my new terrain.  I combated the feeling of loneliness by watching The Boondock Saints, my personal nod to the spirit of St. Patrick, and it worked for the most part.  I was amused and felt better.

What is the point to all of this, you ask?  I know I sound as though I'm whining.  And, I suppose I am to a degree and you've heard it all before, but really it's more that I truly believe there will come a day, a year or so from now - maybe more, hopefully less - when I wake up and realize that I feel as though I belong here.  I'm not an outsider any longer, I will suddenly realize, I am a true citizen of the 'Burgh.  My guess is it will come gradually, and I'll not even really notice that it's happening until it's done.  What I want is to be able to remember where I started from, these hard and lonely first days, so I can relish simply feeling at home.  In the meantime, I'm about to get dressed to go out and buy something green to hang in the window.

May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go,
and guide you in whatever you do--
and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.

- Irish Blessing

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