Through A Glass Darkly


[The Bridgeport, Connecticut train station* through a dirty window]

Okay, I admit it: I only really clean house when company’s coming—and then I go crazy! (Although this Sunday, I did make peace with spiders. Or, rather, I found inner peace when I finally admitted that Spiders Will Always Win! NO Matter What!) So after the (temporary) cobweb removal and the dusting and vacuuming and scrubbing the floor but not yet exhausted, I gave my surroundings a critical, queenly inspection—and noticed late afternoon sunlight shining through a filthy front window. Quelle horreur! So grabbed the Windex and some paper towels and went onto my front porch to spritz.

Such greasy, black grime!  It reminded me of childhood  visits to my Bridgeport, CT grandmother and how within minutes of playing outside her house I’d look like I’d been rolling around in soot.

When I told my granddaughter about my filthy Bridgeport visits recently, she’d looked at me blankly. “Why was it so dirty outside?” “Because in those days, Bridgeport had big factories with big smokestacks that let out lots of pollution into the air.” Another blank look! (Maybe if I’d used the word “belched” instead of “let out” she would have gotten it. But maybe not.)

Sunday I gave some thought to the source of that grime and had to acknowledge—not for the first time but somehow freshly Real— that much of it comes from Somerville’s car-exhaust-filled air. I had to again acknowledge my home town’s obscene asthma and cancer rates (which, when all the other variables are accounted for, like smoking, can only be explained by Somerville’s proximity to Interstate 93 and its busy, congested streets.). And, yeah, even spent a moment or two contemplating the closed, rusting factories of Bridgeport and what happened to that community and its families when all those belching factories padlocked their gates. (It’s complicated, right?)

My Bridgeport grandmother, Lil, died from lung cancer. (She also smoked like Bridgeport factory.) Her great-great granddaughter, Lilian, is two. Anchored by these two, precious Lils, acknowledging the Bridgeport factory workers and their families and  the present-day Somerville families struggling with health issues related to air quality I ask, “What am I called to do?”

* My mother and father met in another/earlier Bridgeport, CT train station in 1941.





Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia! Wow, and wow! I love this great and honest blog post article of yours, as well as your other ones with such descriptive creativity, and clarity! i can sure relate, Sister! My apartment definitely would not be featured in Good Housekeeping magazine (SMILE!). I do a massive feat of cleanliness and organization when I know the inspector is coming (thank our Good and Merciful God that housing lets us know ahead of time with a letter), and I also make a mad dash and a frantic attempt to clean my apartment when I know that my apartment manager or landlord is coming! I am definitely not the best with housekeeping and organization. I receive services as a woman with multiple disabilities who receives a low and fixed income in disability benefits. I used to have more housekeeping services due to being disabled but we as consumers and clients have had our services severely reduced for this help, so I do the best as I can with my physical disabilities. Wow, sister, a lot of our services have been severely reduced. My EBT Snap Food Stamps benefits with the same amount of income have been cut in half! Praise Spirit that I can go to the Food Bank regularly here where I live, and they are so generous with the food donations-I truly appreciate the Food Bank with all that I have-they help me to survive! Even with my struggles and challenges, I am so incredibly blessed, Sister!

    Patricia, I was diagnosed with a mild form of asthma in 2001 at the age of 39 but I think that I have always had asthma. It just was not detected earlier in my life. When I was a little girl I always would get these terrible wheezing colds and have trouble breathing. It is a miracle that I made it! My paternal grandfather and paternal great-grandmother died of lung cancer as well. I am not a smoker. I am so glad that I never got into cigarette smoking, my precious white sister, Patricia!

    Sister, I know what you mean about the diminished air quality around our country and world! Something bad is for certain going on with the air quality in our country and world. I can tell a change for the worse since the 1980s and 1990s not just where I live now but where I formerly lived as well when I went back there for a class reunion!

    Sister Patricia, you provide me such great and immense joy as I regularly visit your stupendous blog post website. It just make my day! I have such pleasure responding to your brilliant and inspiring blog post articles! I am a better Christian because of you and your astute writings, my white sister who you are so, so very much as an ally and in solidarity, Patricia! May you thoroughly enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, and please have a very nice, special, and a very blessed day, Sister!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely Always,

    Your Christian lesbian black sister in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.