Yesterday morning as I lay in bed, a Herring Gull cried out. I was instantly transported to the ocean, waves crashing into the shore, smell of brine, thick, salty air, sand between my toes.
This morning, the haunting chime of St. Patrick’s bell rings on the hour each hour. I lie in bed imagining the bell ringing out over dusty streets many years ago.
There are wise, old buildings here that have seen much change take place in this planned city. Cobblestones lie patient and quiet beneath a thin layer of pavement, cracks and erosion revealing a layer of road from a forgotten time.
My building appeared in 1921 and is one that has remained for nearly one hundred years to bear witness to the evolution of life from farm to industry to ruin to resurrection and restoration.
House sparrows find homes in the spaces where bricks once lived in old buildings. Their chatter is a constant sound as they flit in and out of their own tiny apartments outside my window.
If it weren’t for the constant sirens, crashing and barking from above, and infinite trash lining the streets and canals, Lowell might feel more romantic. I dream of trees, soft, clean earth, thrush song, and quiet, and I awake to a city teeming with life of a different sort.
Less romantic was the empty space where my car window used to be that I found when I went down to my car early this afternoon. I thought I was going to go out for a couple hours to run a few errands. The universe thought otherwise.
The glass was such a pretty color of green, lying in chaotic piles on my back seat, the floor, and the curb where the pavement of the road meets the sidewalk. I must admit this was not my first concern, as I surveyed the damage. Ipod touch and car adaptor, GPS, hidden change purse with a $100 bill for emergencies. A small case of CD’s my sister gave me with the words “Hilary Fortin’s Bat Mitzvah” in purple on a black background, a Cabela’s LED lantern (which they likely used to find hidden treastures), a canvas LL Bean bag with a dog and the name “Kota” stitched onto one side with first aid kits and toilet paper inside.
The truly irreplaceable items, my collection of rocks and branches, my Sibley East bird guide, and my cast-iron fairy, remained. The fairy, which I placed in my car for protection, did her job and kept me safe. I can’t help but wonder what might have been should I have parked the car late at night rather than in broad daylight.
Perhaps, my affair with Lowell will prove to be briefer than I anticipated. On my last visit to my parents’ house, my dad had left a well-worn copy of The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse on my bed, and I had brought it back with me to my apartment. I sat reading it this morning, telling myself, “I can make it in the city for a while, maybe even a year,” and trying not to think about what a year of pavement, broken glass, empty, miniature liquor bottles, and violations of my right to feel safe where I live might inflict upon my soul and spirit.
Perhaps, I really am meant to be a country mouse.
When Country Mouse finally leaves his cousin Town Mouse’s big city home, he is welcomed home by friends and neighbors.
“Come, Country Mouse,” said the littlest mouse. “You can spend all Christmas telling us all your great adventures.” Country Mouse breathed a long sigh. All he wanted to do was FORGET!