Rosa Mahoney

My friend, Carolyn, dropped me at the Metro Link in South Pasadena so I would wend my way to Union Station and then to LAX on the fly away bus.  There had been a conversation about how her husband, Jose, always insisted she carry cash, just in case. I don’t carry cash. Ever. I carry my little blue credit card. As I repeatedly tried inserting this card over and over with the error message flashing at me, it occured that perhaps he had a point. I was feeling a bit panicked. Carolyn had a work meeting and I didn’t know a soul in LA. Next to me was an older lady who was glancing at my repeated efforts. “Hi, could you help me? I’m trying to get back to Denver and don’t have any idea what I’m doing”. I realized how hard it is to trust a complete stranger, and I am talking about her, not me. When I am approached for help on the street I assume a possible malicious motive. You have to be wary of people asking for help. But I really had no choice. I tried to appear non threatening and gave my most charming, I am not trying to rob or manipulate you in any way, I’m a country bumpkin from the small western city of Denver. She came over and began punching buttons. It was clear she didn’t have much more of a clue than I did on how to operate the thing. She already had a metro link card and didn’t have to actually purchase them. Somehow it spit out a card after several attempts. In between, she said “you just come with me and I will show my card and tell them you are from Denver and need to get home”.  Thank goodness, that was not necessary. A man in passing mentioned that the metrolink sometimes didn’t take credit cards, it was finicky, and really one should have a little cash in case. Yes, Jose, I can hear the wisdom, I thought. In the meantime, this lady had missed a train for helping me. “Can you tell me how I know where the Union Station stop is?” I asked her. She explained that they would announce it. “Where are you going?” I asked. Chinatown, she replied. We got on the light rail and as we did so she said ” I am not going to Chinatown now, I am going to Union Station with you and will make sure you get the right bus”. I had a flashback of a story Jose told the night before, at dinner, about a gentleman in Portugal who had done much the same thing on a cable car when he was a tourist. It was dejavu. She told me a summarized version of her life on the way to Union Station. She was from Chile and had moved to LA when she was 26. She goes back to Chile every year. She showed me her purse that had a lovely Chilean scene. She told me how the houses in the city she is from cling to the cliffs and there are views for miles. She was now in her early 70’s and had  grown kids and a few grandchildren. She was not happy they didn’t visit much. She talked about the culture in Chile being much more embracing of the older generation.  She told me a story of an American couple in LA who had neglected their Father and expressed sadness at his death which she found hypocritical. I was feeling a few guilt pangs. My mother and I have never seen eye to eye and I had an unhappy childhood home. I stuggle with navigating a relationship with my parents. They are older, just a little older than Rosa. We arrived in Union Station and she guided me to the other end of it, up an escalator, through to the buses, told the fly away bus driver to wait, put me in line, watched me buy the ticket (we were both a bit nervous about the blue credit cards’ ability to work), escorted me back to the bus and said “I am Rosa Mahoney, like the Irish. I work in XXX (in an attempt at privacy I will leave her employer out). Rosa Mahoney, don’t forget me. I am your angel today.” I reached out and hugged her and said “Rosa Mahoney, I won’t forget you, my friend”.

 

I called my mom the next day:)

agenda

damn if I didn’t see the agenda

believe the pretty words

blinded by the consequences to myself and others

thinking it must be an oversight

yesterday, I saw it

it was out there

it took a few brave souls

speaking out

their voices shook

they were nervous

it’s hard to speak in a public forum

against the entrenched heirarchy

damn if I wasn’t proud

damn if it didn’t give me hope

even if I was on the wrong side of the table

*street art from my recent visit to LA*

 

 

mi amigo para siempre

Carylyn and I have been friends for over 30 years. She was a sassy 19 year old who came into the daycare where I worked in Mountain View, CA, and made magic happen for the older kids. She was a whiz at program planning and making everyone have a great time. She was a little bit bossy. She still is. It works for her and makes her very effective at work and in life.  It’s different to know someone through most of your lifetime. I see her in spectrum, like a rainbow. I see that 19 year rebel with tattoos and a truck. I see her going to college. I see her finding a career. I see her loving and moving on in love and finding her husband, Jose, who makes her happy and loves her so well. I remember running from the tornado storm, talking the cop out of a ticket, accidentally hitting the gay bar scene in Austin (those guys were so hot and we were very dissapointed when realized), writing poetry together, driving through the swamps of Louisana and meeting the oddest characters. We were unafraid together. She was courageous, adventurous and always up for anything. She was the one I told about the young Englisman I had met and she remembers me telling her I could marry him. I did. We eventually lived in different parts of the country and I got very busy raising a family. She had hardships and victories. But we never let go of our friendship. She’s exactly the same person she was then but with lots of life under her belt. When we catch up it’s so easy. It’s like the years float away and we can absorb each other’s lives effortlessly. We don’t need to try to figure each other out. This weekend I visited her and her husband in Los Angelos. We went to the zoo, the botanical gardens, danced together to a latin band, and ate Ethipoan, Thai and Cuban. We sat in her kitchen each morning catching the years up. It was like inserting a zip drive or inhaling a beautiful smell; easy and effortless. I came away from the weekend in LA knowing her husband and seeing the way they move through life together. I know how it feels to wake up in her house and look at the palm trees and pines mix together against the LA blue sky down the slope into the cityscape below. I know how her dog Rex talks to everyone and makes sure he gets what he needs while sweet Tona, her other dog, listens and watches patiently and takes a bit longer to get up and down. I’ve had her fantastic, healthy waffles and have watched Chubby, the resident hummingbird, buzz through her verdant backyard. I know she has to sweep the pine needles daily from her porch. I’ve used, and taken home her favorite facecream, because she is generous like that. I now posses a pair of earrings I admired, because she insisted on giving them to me. I spent time with her momma, Helen, who is a little older but still as sweet as she ever was. I noticed how they share the bossy trait, in the nicest, most charming way. Carolyn now takes care of her and it is a side of her I hadn’t seen when we were younger. Caregiver. But she wears her role with grace and love. And she uses that bossy trait to get things done in the best possible way for her mom. She’s a super hero daughter. Helen gave me a book of her poetry and signed it. Both poets; mother and daughter. I am so lucky to have known and shared a friendship with this amazing woman. My forever friend, Carolyn.

a colorado blessing

may the mountains in the west

be ever in your sight

may mountain air refresh you

may dancing columbines tease a smile from you

may you find your trail up and up to mountain valleys and running brooks

may the sound of Rocky Mountain water pounding through the boulders awe you

may pines and aspens shade you

may canyons give you shelter

and their stillness bring you peace

may God keep you

and shine his face upon you

until we meet again

*I love the idea of blessings and you can see them in all cultures throughout history*

 

College

I find myself

holed up in my room

with books

tucked into crooks and corners of the house

studying

pleased with a goal to pursue

my natural inclination for solitude has a justification

I need to remember

that the people I love are the bricks of my life

music the art

as lovely as it is to enrich my mind

the people are the ones that enrich my life

the music I play cannot be forgotton or colors begin to fade

the poets and writers I read must be read

for life to be an ocean and not a stream