Friday, July 3, 2009

Why do you Love Holyoke?


Nice things I heard lately.

"You have some talents there!"

"I washed your Yoga pants Mom"

"That sandwich was really good!"

"You should write more."

So I am writing more. I should write more, I like writing. I feel somewhat uncomfortable being very personal here which is weird right? Because on Face Book I once had a status that included my bra size.

I deleted it, stop looking.

My life in Holyoke is.. not like my life was in any other town I ever lived in. Nor like it was in New York, or Florida. In Holyoke I feel connected. I feel like I could go outside and put my palm on the pavement and feel the pulse of Holyoke. Holyoke has a personality, she has a flirty smile. She has strong reassuring hands. Apparently she has a gender.

Not so long ago I was out with a friend and someone mentioned Holyoke. My spine straightened and I turned slightly towards the speaker and began to extol the virtues of Holyoke. My companion laughed and said "Look how she just lit up." That guy will never know how much that sentence meant to me. I like to have my passions noticed. And I am passionate about Holyoke.

I tried to leave Holyoke once, I moved to a 'better' town with a 'better' school system. I had affluent friends (though I have major issues with the idea of affluence in America as our poorest family on welfare is still richer then the richest African farm worker, but anyway) and my kids got good grades. One day.. I realized that there were no minority children in either of my kids classes. They had no exposure to other languages or culture.

Dear God, I was raising Wonder Bread boys!

Luckily this realization coincided with the loss of my job and a small mental breakdown.. I had a lot of realizations at the same time and then had three TERRIBLE weeks that involved a house fire, a liar, a thief, my ex husbands couch, a Chicopee school and finally.. a crappy apartment in Holyoke.

Where else could I have gone? I was jobless and had made myself friendless. I lacked direction, I lacked self esteem. But Holyoke didn't care, Holyoke welcomed me with open arms. Holyoke schools didn't care about the brand of clothing my kids wore or what I drove. My children began to learn Spanish! They went to birthday parties and ate unidentifiable foods. They tasted REAL beans and rice.. they learned to relax.

And slowly.. I did too. While I was looking for a work, a very long, slow, depressing year, I began to post on masslive and I met people like VanDog and HiesRN. My kids found scouting and soccer.. and I found the very thing I had been lacking all along.

Community.

I eventually found work, 40 minutes away but worth the daily drive. I began to work on myself, my health (After a nasty health scare and a little surgery) and my.. at the risk of sounding dramatic, my soul.

Over the last 2 years I have made some wonderful amazing friends in Holyoke.. there are simply too many list and I am too frightened to leave anyone out. You all know who you are. We have eaten together, walked together, had wine together. With some of you I have begun my Yoga journey (thank you!) and with some of you I feel the desire to understand photography grow. We have discussed local politics, libraries and public schools. You have shaken hands with my children and made us all grin a little more.

That's what Holyoke means to me. A family of acceptance. A community desperately reaching out to everyone. A welcoming fold. A gentle wing.

Tomorrow when I go outside I will put my hand to the ground and close my eyes and remember all of that and I will smile. Ask me again why I love Holyoke and I will tell you the truth.

Because Holyoke loves me.

11 comments:

Joey B said...

Well, I've had my moments with Holyoke... like when my convertible top got slashed and my radio torn out.

But getting to know people like you have made me think of it as home.

And I thank you for that.

Reducing in HM said...

I've witnessed a bloody shooting in Holyoke.. it has it's... perils. People suck all over the place though, right?

Thats the nicest thing I have heard all week! Thank you Joey B, and you know.. likewise. :o)

Jeffrey Byrnes said...

I love Holyoke because it is literally the birthplace of my career, the beginning of my dreams, and the first steps towards the life I want. People are skeptical about Holyoke, but I am not. I know there is more potential than a lot more people realize. Holyoke has a lot of rich history, history I am proud to be a part of...

HeisRN said...

"I deleted it, stop looking."

I've said it before - your sense of humor is wonderful.

A nicely written piece, my friend.

Reducing in HM said...

I used to think I would outgrow boob jokes but.. yea, no.

Thanks Mike. Only in Holyoke coudl the Hippie activist and the Republican be friends.

Did I ever tell you that the republican social worker last summer turned out to be a total effing asshole who tried to make his kids choose sides agaisnt his ex wife? In front of me!! I felt kind of bad that the first time I met his kids was the last time I saw him.

HeisRN said...

It just goes to show that political affiliation doesn't preclude "assholism".

And boob jokes go out of style??
Nobody told me!

:)

Reducing in HM said...

Yea, plus he didn't write me poetry! What the hell!

I hope you guys have fun camping. I wish N could have gone.. next summer you can have both my kids!I'll pay anything for that lol.

HeisRN said...

If they don't kill me this year...

VanDog said...

OMG! this is a wonderful story. How did miss this last week?

Reducing in HM said...

Have you been ignoring me?! I was getting worried! In all seriousness I am glad that you liked it. I get so silly nervous about being too personal here.

I expect BMaverik to come and call me a .. whats he call me again? A left wing radical wing nut or something lol

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