Somewhere in the recesses of my dimly lit Jewish heritage, I can recall that when Easter rolls around, Passover must be happening nearby. My knowledge of Christian lore tells me that something having to do with Jesus happened today many years ago, but that is about the extent of my understanding and interest in these events.
The tenants in the apartment above me must have been pretty excited for Easter, as they began preparing for the big day at 1:19am by stomping around and sending their fluffy mammalian companion—I think it is a dog—bounding back and forth as only a tiny, pygmy elephant with fur can across the thinly insulated wooden flooring.
In fact, I think the entire neighborhood began celebrating in the wee hours of the morning. In a scene I could only imagine with finger snapping, chanting, and exaggerated dance moves, shouting between two groups of people in an intense call and response began not long after the stirrings in apartment 5A.
In my more rational moments, I engage in a somewhat romanticized justification for remaining in my current location in the neighborhood of Lowell that has come to be known as “The Acre”. Back in the early days of Lowell, the Irish were the first round of immigrants to arrive. Refused work in the mills, they were given the unenviable task of digging in rocky New England soil to create 5.6 miles of canals that would eventually power the factories. In fact, the sturdy, rock walls that line the canals are remnants of hard labor.
As legend has it, the Irish were gifted an acre of land upon which to build a church in thanks for their toil. They built St. Patrick’s on this plot, which still stands today. I can see this church, as well as the gold-capped Greek Orthodox church, from my fourth floor apartment.
In the boardinghouses lined up beside the factories, women from the farms of New England were two or three to a bed, six to a small room, and they went to work in the dark hours before breakfast and returned in the dark 12-14 hours later. I can hardly complain about my own experience working in the Boott Cotton Mill.
All work and sleepless nights are wreaking havoc on my sanity and overall wellbeing. When I am not quietly going mad from being woken up at all hours of the night and morning, I imagine the young women and poor immigrants who journeyed to Lowell to work in the mills and who must have endured noise, bed bugs, and restless nights that make my whining laughable.
I still can’t help but long for trees and birds and the call of a rooster in the morning. One can always hope…